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Full text of "Contemporaries"

ONTEMPORARIES 





THOMAS 
WENTWORTH 

JjiC, :.\;,U;v 




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EDITED WITH MRS. E. H. BIGELOW. 
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HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY, 

Boston and New York. 



CONTEMPORARIES 



BY 
THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON 




Cc5DE^2SS 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 



COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY THOMAS WENTWORTH HIGGINSON 
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 



1 qob 



NOTE 

Most of the sketches included in this volume 
have appeared at different times, and often un- 
signed, either in the " Atlantic Monthly " or in 
the New York " Nation," the rest having been 
printed respectively in the " Century Magazine," 
the " Chautauquan," and the "Independent," 
in the " Correspondence " of Dr. T. W. Harris, 
in Redpath's "Life of Captain John Brown," 
and in " Eminent Women of the Age." They 
are now brought together and reprinted, partly 
from the natural instinct of preserving one's 
own work, and partly because a group of such 
personal delineations has some increase of value 
when recognized as proceeding from one mind, 
and thus expressing the same general point of 
view. These papers have all received such 
revision as was made necessary by the develop- 
ment of new facts or by the reconsideration of 
opinions ; the only exception to this being in the 
case of one paper of a strictly narrative nature, 
which it was thought best to leave untouched, 
as the only mode of preserving the precise at- 
mosphere of the thrilling period when it was 
originally written. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

RALPH WALDO EMERSON I 

AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 23 

THEODORE PARKER 34 

JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 60 

WALT WHITMAN 72 

SIDNEY LANIER 85 

AN EVENING WITH MRS. HAWTHORNE . . . 102 

LYDIA MARIA CHILD I08 

HELEN JACKSON (" H. H.") I42 

JOHN HOLMES l68 

THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS I92 

A VISIT TO JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD IN 1859 . 219 

WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 244 

WENDELL PHILLIPS 257 

CHARLES SUMNER 280 

DR. HOWE'S ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER .... 294 

ULYSSES SIMPSON GRANT 302 

THE ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS . . . 329 

THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 349 

INDEX 375 



CONTEMPORARIES 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Bos- 
ton, Mass., May 25, 1803, being the son of the 
Rev. William Emerson and Ruth (Haskins) 
Emerson. The Rev. William Emerson was one 
of the most eminent of the Boston clergy of 
his day; and his father, also named William, 
was the minister of Concord at the time of the 
" Concord fight," and had on the Sunday pre- 
vious preached from the text, "Resistance to 
tyrants is obedience to God." On the mother's 
side, as well as on the father's, Ralph Waldo 
Emerson came not merely of unmixed New 
England blood, but of an emphatically clerical 
stock. He had had a minister among his an- 
cestors in every generation for eight genera- 
tions back, on the one side or the other. Like 
his friend and teacher, William Ellery Chan- 
ning, he was reared under the especial and 
controlling influence of strong women, for his 
father died when he was but eight years old, so 



2 CONTEMPORARIES 

that his mother and his aunt, Miss Mary Emer- 
son, were the guiding influences of his early 
life. The Rev. Dr. Frothingham once wrote 
of Mrs. Emerson, the elder : " Both her mind 
and character were of a superior order, and 
they set their stamp upon manners of peculiar 
softness and natural grace and quiet dignity." 
Mrs. Ripley wrote of Miss Mary Emerson, 
" Her power over the minds of her young 
friends was almost despotic ; " and her eminent 
nephew said of her that her influence upon him 
was as great as that of Greece or Rome. The 
household atmosphere was one of " plain living 
and high thinking," and Mr. Emerson used to 
relate, according to Mr. Cooke, that he had 
once gone without the second volume of a book 
because his aunt had convinced him that his 
mother could not afford to pay six cents for it 
at the circulating library. He was fitted for 
Harvard College at the public schools of Bos- 
ton, and when he entered, at the age of four- 
teen, in 1817, he became "President's fresh- 
man," as the position was then called, doing 
official errands for compensation. He was then 
described as being "a slender, delicate youth, 
younger than most of his classmates, and of a 
sensitive, retiring nature." 

All his college career showed the conscien- 
tiousness which was to control his life, and also 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 3 

his strong literary tendency. In his junior year 
he won a " Bowdoin prize " for an essay on 
"The Character of Socrates," and again in his 
senior year a second prize for a dissertation on 
"The Present State of Ethical Philosophy," 
these two being the only opportunities then 
afforded by the college for such competition. 
He also won a " Boylston prize " for declama- 
tion, was Class Poet, and had a "part " at Com- 
mencement in a conference on the character 
of John Knox. Josiah Quincy, of Boston, a 
member of the same class, remarked in his col- 
lege diary, as quoted by himself in the " New 
York Independent," that Emerson's disserta- 
tion on ethics was "dull and dry." As he him- 
self had won the first prize, his criticism could 
have afforded, it would seem, to be generous ; 
but as he also regarded Emerson's Class Day 
poem as "rather poor," it is necessary to re- 
member that there is no known criticism quite 
so merciless as that of college boys on one 
another. At any rate it was with these creden- 
tials that Emerson went forth to the world in 
1 82 1 ; and as his destiny was to be literature, 
we must pause for a moment to consider what 
then was the condition of this nation in that 
regard. 

We must remember that it was only the po- 
litical life of America which came into being 



4 CONTEMPORARIES 

in 1776 : its literary life was not yet born ; and 
though Horace Walpole had written two years 
earlier that there would one day be a Thucydi- 
des in Boston and a Xenophon in New York, 
nobody on this side of the Atlantic believed it, 
or even stopped to think about it. The Gov- 
ernment was born with such travail, and this 
was prolonged for so many years, that the 
thoughts of public men went little farther. 
Fisher Ames wrote about 1807 an essay on 
"American Literature" to prove that there 
would never be any such thing. He said : — 

"Except the authors of two able works on 
our politics we have no authors. Shall we 
match Joel Barlow against Homer or Hesiod ? 
Can Thomas Paine contend against Plato ? " 2 
He then shows how in each department of liter- 
ature America is probably foredoomed to fail, 
and closes with the hopeful suggestion that, 
when liberty shall yield to despotism, literature 
and luxury may arrive together. 

It is well known that John Adams, a few 
years later, took a somewhat similar view of 
affairs. He wrote in 18 19 to a French artist 
who wished to make a bust of him : — 

" The age of sculpture and painting has not 
yet arrived in this country, and I hope it will 
not arrive very soon. I would not give six- 
1 Works of Fisher Ames, pp. 460, 461. 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 5 

pence for a picture of Raphael or a statue of 
Phidias." 

When we wonder at the political ability of 
that day, we must remember that men concen- 
trated absolutely everything upon it ; they could 
not give even a thought to creating a cultivated 
nation ; the thing that amazes us is that they 
should have created a nation at all. 

Two years after John Adams had made the 
above remark about painting, and only four- 
teen years after Fisher Ames had written thus 
hopelessly of American literature, Emerson was 
graduated at Harvard. It is to be noted of 
him that he was the very first of that long line 
of well-known authors who received their first 
literary criticism from Professor Edward Tyrrel 
Channing. Up to that time there had been no 
such thing as a professional author in America, 
except Brockden Brown, who died in 18 10. 
Channing was a clergyman ; Bryant was a law- 
yer; Cooper was not yet known, his novel of 
" Precaution " having been published anony- 
mously ; Bancroft was still in Germany, and 
Irving in England. The " North American 
Review" had been six years established, but 
still reached only a small circle. Sydney Smith 
had lately written (in 18 18) : "There does not 
seem to be in America, at this moment, one 
man of any considerable talents." Such was 



6 CONTEMPORARIES 

the condition of affairs when Emerson took his 
diploma and went forth as Bachelor of Arts. 

For five years after leaving college he was an 
assistant teacher in a school for girls, taught by 
his elder brother, William. In 1823 he began 
to study for the ministry, the accumulated tra- 
ditions of his ancestry being quite too strong 
for him. He did not join the Harvard Divinity 
School, then newly established, but he was duly 
"appointed to preach" in 1826. His health 
was delicate, and he took a trip southward for 
small parishes under temporary engagements. 
He evidently felt at this time a premonition of 
that longing for studious retirement to which 
he afterward yielded ; for the graceful verses, 

" Good-by, proud world, I 'm going home," 

belong to this period of his life and not to the 
later time. On March 11, 1829, he was or- 
dained as colleague to the Rev. Henry Ware, 
Jr., of the Second Unitarian Society in Boston. 
Here he remained for three years, faithfully 
discharging his professional duties, and indeed 
construing them with a liberality beyond most 
of his profession, inasmuch as he twice opened 
his pulpit for anti-slavery addresses. The Rev. 
Mr. Ware was absent in Europe during a large 
part of Mr. Emerson's term of service, and re- 
turned only to resign his post from ill-health, 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 7 

saying to the people in regard to his young 
colleague : " Providence presented to you at 
once a man on whom your hearts could rest." 

Emerson's preaching seems to have prefig- 
ured his later lecturing in earnestness and sin- 
cerity, and it had the same ideal aspect ; he 
spoke of himself once as "killing the utility 
swine" in a sermon on ethics. He had some 
duties outside his own pulpit, was Chaplain of 
the State Senate, and member of the City 
School Committee. He seems to have liked 
his work, but was compelled by his conscience 
to preach a sermon (September 9, 1832) against 
the further observance of the so-called " Lord's 
Supper." This sermon was not printed at the 
time, but may be found in Frothingham's " His- 
tory of Transcendentalism." It does not seem 
very aggressive when tried beside the more 
trenchant heresies of to-day, but it sufficed to 
separate him from his parish. Yet it is evi- 
dent that the separation was without bitterness, 
inasmuch as he furnished for the ordination of 
his successor, the Rev. Chandler Robbins, dur- 
ing the next year, the fine hymn beginning — 

" We love the venerable house 
Our fathers built to God." 

During this pastorate he was married (in 
September, 1829) to Ellen Louise Tucker, to 
whom he addressed the lines entitled "To 



8 CONTEMPORARIES 

Ellen at the South." She died of consumption 
in February, 1832, and at the end of that year 
he sailed for Europe, being gone nearly a year. 
It was during this visit that he made the ac- 
quaintance of Landor and Wordsworth, as de- 
scribed in " English Traits," and he also went 
to Craigenputtock to see Carlyle, who long 
afterward described his visit (in conversation 
with Longfellow), as being "like the visit of 
an angel." Then began that friendship which 
lasted for a lifetime, and which had such a hold 
upon the high-minded Carlyle, that he scarcely 
seemed a cynic when the name of Emerson 
was uttered. 

After his return to Boston Mr. Emerson 
preached a few times — once in his old pulpit 
— and declined a call from the large Unitarian 
Society in New Bedford. He gave public lec- 
tures on "Italy," on "Water," and on "The 
Relation of Man to the Globe." In 1834 he 
gave in Boston a series of biographical lectures 
on Michael Angelo, Milton, Luther, George 
Fox, and Edmund Burke, — a different pan- 
theon, it will be observed, from his later " Re- 
presentative Men." It is well remembered that 
there was even at that time a charm in his man- 
ner which arrested the attention of very young 
people ; and from that time forward, for half a 
century, he was one of the leading lecturers of 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 9 

America. He lectured in forty successive sea- 
sons before a single " lyceum " — that of Salem, 
Mass. His fine delivery unquestionably did a 
great deal for the dissemination of his thought. 
After once hearing him, that sonorous oratory 
seemed to roll through every sentence that the 
student read ; and his very peculiarities, — the 
occasional pause accompanied with a deep gaze 
of the eyes, or the apparent hesitation in the 
selection of a word, always preparing the way, 
like Charles Lamb's stammer, for some stroke 
of mother - wit, — these identified themselves 
with his personality, and secured his hold. He 
always shrank from extemporaneous speech, 
though sometimes most effective in its use ; he 
wrote of himself once as " the worst known pub- 
lic speaker, and growing continually worse ; " 
but his most studied remarks had the effect of 
off-hand conviction from the weight and beauty 
of his elocution. 

From the time, however, when he retired to 
his father's birthplace, Concord (in 1834), and 
published his first thin volume, entitled " Na- 
ture," it became plain that it was through the 
press that his chief work was to be done. It is 
sometimes doubtful how far one who initiates 
a fresh impulse, whether in literature or life, 
does it with full and conscious purpose. There 
can be no such doubt in the case of Emerson. 



io CONTEMPORARIES 

From the beginning to the end of this first vol- 
ume, the fact is clear that it was consciously 
and deliberately a new departure. Those ninety 
brief pages were an undisguised challenge to 
the world. On the very first page the author 
complains that our age is retrospective, — that 
others have " beheld God and nature face to 
face ; we only through their eyes. Why should 
not we," he says, "also enjoy an original rela- 
tion to the universe ? Why should not we have 
a poetry and philosophy of insight and not of 
tradition ? " Thus the book begins, and on the 
very last page it ends, " Build, therefore, your 
own world ! " 

At any time, and under any conditions, the 
first reading of such words by any young per- 
son would be a great event in life, but in the 
comparative conventionalism of the literature 
of that period it had the effect of a revelation. 
It was soon followed by other similar appeals. 
On the very first page of the first number of 
the "Dial" (July, 1840) the editors speak of 
"the strong current of thought and feeling 
which for a few years past has led many sin- 
cere persons in New England to make new 
demands on literature, and to repudiate that 
rigor of our conventions of religion and educa- 
tion which is turning us to stone." 

Emerson's "Thoughts on Modern Litera- 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON n 

ture," contained in the second number of the 
"Dial" (October, 1840), struck the keynote of 
a wholly new demand. In this he has a frank 
criticism of Goethe, whom he boldly arraigns 
for not rising above the sphere of the conven- 
tional, and for not giving us a new heaven and 
a new earth. Goethe, he says, tamely takes 
life as it is, " accepts the base doctrine of Fate, 
and gleans what straggling joys may yet re- 
main out of its ban." 

"He was content to fall into the track of 
vulgar poets, and spend on common aims his 
splendid endowments, and has declined the 
office proffered now and then to a man in many 
centuries, in the power of his genius — of a 
Redeemer of the human mind. . . . Let him 
pass. Humanity must wait for its physician 
still, at the side of the road, and confess as this 
man goes out that they have served it better 
who assured it out of the innocent hope in 
their hearts that a Physician will come, than 
this majestic Artist, with all the treasures of 
wit, of science, and of power at his command." 
Again, Emerson says in the same paper : — 
"He who doubts whether this age or this 
country can yield any contribution to the litera- 
ture of the world only betrays his blindness 
to the necessities of the human soul. . . . 
What shall hinder the Genius of the Time 



12 CONTEMPORARIES 

from speaking its thought ? It cannot be silent 
if it would. It will write in a higher spirit, and 
a wider knowledge, and with a grander practi- 
cal aim, than ever yet guided the pen of poet ; 
. . . and that which was ecstasy shall become 
daily bread." 

It was the direct result of words like these to 
arouse what is the first great need in a new 
literature — self-reliance. The impulse in this 
direction, given during the so-called Transcen- 
dental period was responsible for many of the 
excesses of that time, but it was the only way 
to make strong men and women. The " Dial " 
itself revealed liberally some of the follies of 
the movement it represented, but nothing can 
ever deprive it of its significance as offering the 
first distinctly American movement in litera- 
ture. And while it is difficult, in this period of 
perhaps temporary reaction against the ideal 
school of thought, to fix Emerson's permanent 
standing among thinkers, his influence as a 
stimulus was quite unequaled during the era 
when our original literature was taking form. 

In 1835 Mr. Emerson was married for the 
second time, his wife being Miss Lidian Jack- 
son, daughter of Charles Jackson, of Plymouth, 
and sister of Dr. Charles T. Jackson, well 
known in connection with the discovery of 
anaesthetics. He then went to reside in the 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 13 

house which was thenceforth his home, and was 
for many years, as Lord Clarendon said of the 
house of Lord Falkland, " a college situated in 
purer air" and "a university in less volume" 
to the many strangers who came thither. In 
this house his children were born, and here his 
devoted mother resided with him until she died. 
From this time forth, too, he identified himself 
with all the local affairs of Concord, writing a 
hymn for the dedication of the Revolutionary 
Monument, giving an historical address, and 
recognized by all as the chief pride and orna- 
ment of that little town — as sturdy and cour- 
ageous in its individuality as any free city of 
the later Middle Ages. 

His books appeared in steady succession, the 
material having been often, though not always, 
used previously in lectures. The two volumes 
of "Essays" appeared in 1841 and 1844, the 
"Poems" in 1846, "Representative Men" in 
1850, the "Life of Margaret Fuller Ossoli " 
(of which he was part editor) in 1852, "English 
Traits" in 1856, "The Conduct of Life" in 
i860, "May-Day and Other Poems," with "So- 
ciety and Solitude," in 1869. This list does 
not include the various addresses and ora- 
tions which were published in separate pam- 
phlets, and remained uncollected in America 
until 1849, though reprinted in a cheap form in 



14 CONTEMPORARIES 

England in 1844. Some of these special ad- 
dresses attracted quite as much attention as 
any of his books — this being especially true 
of those entitled "The Method of Nature," 
u Man Thinking," " Literary Ethics," and above 
all, the " Address before the Senior Class at 
Divinity College, Cambridge," delivered July 15, 
1838. It would be difficult to exaggerate the 
hold taken by these addresses upon the young 
people who read them, or the extent to which 
their pithy and heroic maxims became a part 
of the very fibre of manhood to the genera- 
tion then entering upon the stage of life. The 
perfect personal dignity of the leader, his ele- 
vation of thought, his freedom from all petty 
antagonisms, his courage in all practical tests 
enhanced this noble influence. Pure idealist as 
he was, he went through the difficult ordeal 
of the anti-slavery excitement without a stain, 
and more than once endured the novel experi- 
ence of hisses and interruptions with his philo- 
sophic bearing undisturbed, and seeming, in- 
deed, to find only new material for thought in 
this unwonted aspect of life. He also identi- 
fied himself with certain other reforms : signed 
the call for the first National Woman's Suffrage 
Convention, in 1850, and was one of the speak- 
ers at the first meeting of the Free Religious 
Association, of which he was ever after a Vice- 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 15 

President. It is needless to say that he was in 
warm sympathy with the national cause during 
the war for the Union ; and he was a Republi- 
can in politics. 

Mr. Emerson's fame extended far beyond his 
native land ; and it is probable that no writer 
of the English tongue had more influence in 
England, thirty years ago, before the all- 
absorbing interest of the new theories of evo- 
lution threw all the so - called transcendental 
philosophy into temporary shade. When we 
consider, for instance, his marked influence on 
three men so utterly unlike one another as 
Carlyle, Tyndall, and Matthew Arnold, the 
truth of this remark can hardly be disputed. 
On the continent his most ardent admirers and 
commentators were Edgar Quinet in France, 
and Herman Grimm in Germany. 

It will be remembered by many that during 
Kossuth's very remarkable tour in this country 

— when he adapted himself to the local tradi- 
tions and records of every village as if he had 
just been editing for publication its local annals 

— he had the tact to identify Emerson, in his 
fine way, with Concord, and said in his speech 
there, turning to him, " You, sir, are a philoso- 
pher. Lend me, I pray you, the aid of your 
philosophical analysis," etc., etc. He addressed 
him, in short, as if he had been Kant or Hegel. 



16 CONTEMPORARIES 

But in reality nothing could be remoter from 
Emerson than such a philosophic type as this. He 
was only a philosopher in the vaguer ancient 
sense ; his mission was to sit, like Socrates, 
beneath the plane-trees, and offer profound and 
beautiful aphorisms, without even the vague 
thread of the Socratic method to tie them to- 
gether. Once, and once only, in his life, he 
seemed to be approaching the attitude of sys- 
tematic statement — this being in his course of 
lectures on " The Natural Method of Intellec- 
tual Philosophy," given in 1868 or thereabouts ; 
the fundamental proposition of these lectures 
being that "every law of nature is a law of 
mind," and all material laws are symbolical 
statements. These few lectures certainly in- 
spired his admirers with the belief that their 
great poetic seer might commend himself to the 
systematizers also. But for some reason, even 
these lectures were not published till after 
Emerson's death, and his latest books had the 
same detached and fragmentary character as 
his earliest. He remained still among the poets, 
not among the philosophic doctors, and must be 
permanently classified in that manner. 

Yet it may be fearlessly said that, within the 
limits of a single sentence, no man who ever 
wrote the English tongue has put more mean- 
ing into words than Emerson. In his hands, to 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 17 

adopt Ben Jonson's phrase, words " are rammed 
with thought." No one has reverenced the 
divine art of speech more than Emerson, or 
practiced it more nobly. "The Greeks," he 
once said in an unpublished lecture, "antici- 
pated by their very language what the best 
orator could say ; " and neither Greek precision 
nor Roman vigor could produce a phrase that 
Emerson could not match. Who stands in all 
literature as the master of condensation if not 
Tacitus ? Yet Emerson, in his speech at the 
anti-Kansas meeting in Cambridge, quoted that 
celebrated remark by Tacitus where he mentions 
that the effigies of Brutus and Cassius were not 
carried at a certain state funeral ; and in trans- 
lating it, bettered the original. The indignant 
phrase of Tacitus is, " Praefulgebant . . . eo 
ipso quod . . . non visebantur," thus giving 
a grand moral lesson in six words ; but Emer- 
son gives it in five, and translates it, even 
more powerfully : "They glared through their 
absences." Look through all Emerson's writ- 
ings, and then consider whether in all literature 
you can find a man who has better fulfilled that 
aspiration stated in such condensed words by 
Joubert, " to put a whole book into a page, a 
whole page into a phrase, and that phrase into a 
word." After all, it is phrases and words won 
like this which give immortality. And if you 



18 CONTEMPORARIES 

say that, nevertheless, this is nothing, so long 
as an author has not given us a system of the 
universe, it can only be said that Emerson never 
desired to do this, but left on record the opinion 
that " it is too young by some ages yet to form 
a creed." The system-makers have their place, 
no doubt ; but when we consider how many 
of them have risen and fallen since Emerson 
began to write, — Coleridge, Schelling, Cousin, 
Comte, Mill, down to the Hegel of yesterday 
and the Spencer of to-day, — it is really evi- 
dent that the absence of a system cannot prove 
much more short-lived than the possession of 
that commodity. 

It must be left for future generations to de- 
termine Emerson's precise position even as a 
poet. There is seen in him the tantalizing com- 
bination of the profoundest thoughts with the 
greatest possible variation in artistic work, — 
sometimes mere boldness and almost wayward- 
ness, while at other times he achieves the most 
exquisite melody touched with a certain wild 
grace. He has been likened to an aeolian harp, 
which now gives and then perversely withholds 
its music. Nothing can exceed the perfection 
of the lines — 

" Thou canst not wave thy staff in air, 
Nor dip thy paddle in the lake, 
But it carves the bow of beauty there, 

And the ripples in rhyme the oar forsake." 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 19 

Yet within the compass of this same fine poem 
(" Wood - Notes ") there are passages which 
elicited from Theodore Parker, one of the poet's 
most ardent admirers, the opinion that a pine- 
tree which should talk as Mr. Emerson's tree 
talks would deserve to be plucked up and cast 
into the sea. His poetic reputation was dis- 
tinctly later in time than his fame as an essayist 
and lecturer ; and Horace Greeley was one of 
the first, if not the first, to claim for him a rank 
at the very head of our American bards. Like 
Wordsworth and Tennyson, he educated the 
public mind to himself. The same verses which 
were received with shouts of laughter when they 
first appeared in the " Dial " were treated with re- 
spectful attention when collected into a volume, 
and it was ultimately discovered that they were 
among the classic poems of all literature. In 
part this was due to the fact that Emerson actu- 
ally did what Margaret Fuller had reproached 
Longfellow for not doing, — he took his allusions 
and his poetic material from the woods and 
waters around him, and wrote fearlessly even of 
the humble-bee. This was called by some critics 
"a foolish affectation of the familiar," but it 
was recognized by degrees as true art. There 
was thus a gradual change in the public mind, 
and it turned out that in the poems of Emerson, 
not less than in his prose, the birth of a litera- 
ture was in progress. 



20 CONTEMPORARIES 

It must, on the other hand, be remembered, 
in justice to the public mind, that Emerson dis- 
armed his critics by some revision of his poems, 
so that they appeared, and actually were, less 
crude and whimsical when transplanted into the 
volume. In the very case just mentioned, the 
original opening, 

" Fine humble-bee ! fine humble-bee ! " 

had a flavor of affectation, whereas the substi- 
tuted line, 

" Burly, dozing humble-bee," 

added two very effective adjectives to the origi- 
nal description. Again, in the pretty verses 
about the maiden and the acorn, the lines as 
originally published stood thus : — 

" Pluck it now ! In vain — thou canst not I 
It has shot its rootlets down'rd. 
Toy no longer, it has duties ; 
It is anchored in the ground." 

There probably is not a rougher rhyme in Eng- 
lish verse than that between "down'rd" and 
" ground ; " but, after revision, this softer line 
was substituted, 

u Its roots have pierced yon shady mound," 

which, if less vigorous, at least propitiates the 
ear. It is evident from Emerson's criticisms 
in the "Dial" — as that on Ellery Channing's 
poems — that he had a horror of what he calls 



RALPH WALDO EMERSON 21 

" French correctness," and could more easily 
pardon what was rough than what was tame. 
When it came to passing judgment on the de- 
tails of poetry, he was sometimes a whimsical 
critic ; his personal favorites were apt to be 
swans. He undoubtedly felt some recoil from 
his first ardent praise of Whitman, for instance, 
and at any rate was wont to protest against his 
" priapism," as he tersely called it. On the other 
hand, there were whole classes of writers whom 
he scarcely recognized at all. This was true of 
Shelley, for example, about whom he wrote: 
" Though uniformly a poetic mind, he is never 
a poet." His estimate of prose authors seemed 
more definite and trustworthy than in the case 
of verse, yet he probably never quite appreciated 
Hawthorne, and certainly discouraged young 
people from reading his books. 

" Of all writers," says Sir Philip Sidney, " the 
poet is the least liar;" and we might almost 
say that of all poets Emerson is the most direct 
and unfaltering in his search for truth. To this 
must be added, as his highest gift, a nature so 
noble and so calm that he was never misled for 
one instant by temper, by antagonism, by con- 
troversy. The spirit in which he received and 
disarmed the criticisms of his colleague, Henry 
Ware, on the publication of his Divinity Hall 
address, was the spirit of his whole life ; it was 



22 CONTEMPORARIES 

" first pure, then peaceable." The final verdict 
of posterity upon him must be essentially that 
epitaph which he himself placed upon the grave 
of the friend and brother-poet who but just pre- 
ceded him. On his return from Mr. Longfel- 
low's funeral he said to a friend, — with that 
vague oblivion of names which alone beclouded 
his closing years, — " That gentleman whose 
funeral we have been attending was a sweet and 
beautiful soul, but I forget his name." These 
high words of praise might fitly be applied to the 
speaker himself ; but his name shows no signs 
of being forgotten. He died at Concord, Mass., 
April 2J> 1882. 



AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 

Amos Bronson Alcott was born at Wol- 
cott, Conn., November 29, 1799, and died at 
Boston, Mass., March 4, 1888. 

It is often noticed, when the tie between two 
lifelong associates is broken by the death of 
one of them, that the other shows the effect of 
the shock from that moment, as if left only 
half alive — nee superstes integer. So close 
was the intercourse, for many years, between 
Mr. Alcott and Mr. Emerson — so perfect their 
mutual love and reverence — so constant their 
cooperation in the kind of work they did and 
the influence they exerted — that it was diffi- 
cult to conceive of Mr. Alcott as living long 
alone ; and it seemed eminently appropriate 
that part of the remaining interval of his life 
should be employed in delineating his friend's 
traits. They were singularly different in tem- 
perament, and yet singularly united. They 
were alike in simplicity and integrity of nature, 
as well as in their chosen place of residence 
and in the elevated influence they exercised. 
In all other respects they were unlike. Mr, 



24 CONTEMPORARIES 

Alcott was conspicuously an instance of what 
may be called the self - made man in litera- 
ture. Without early advantages, and with no 
family traditions of culture, he took his place 
among the most refined though not among the 
most powerful exponents of the ideal atti- 
tude ; whereas Mr. Emerson came of what Dr. 
Holmes called Brahmin blood, had behind him 
a line of educated clergymen, and had received 
the best that could be given in the way of 
training by the New England of his youth. 
Their temperaments were in many ways differ- 
ent : Emerson was shy and reserved, Alcott 
was effusive and cordial ; Emerson repressed 
personal adulation, Alcott expanded under it ; 
Emerson found in literature his natural func- 
tion, Alcott came to it with such difficulty that 
Lowell wrote of him, 

" In this, as in all things, a lamb among men, 
He goes to sure death when he goes to his pen." 

Emerson's style was enriched by varied know- 
ledge, his use of which made one always wish 
for more. Alcott's reading lay only in one or 
two directions, and his use of it was sometimes 
fatiguing. Emerson's most serious poems were 
prolonged lyrics ; Alcott could put no lyric line 
into his grave and sometimes weighty sonnets. 
Emerson was thrifty, and a good steward of 
his own affairs ; Alcott always seemed in a 



AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 25 

stately way penniless, until the successful career 
of his daughter gave him ampler means. Emer- 
son gave lectures with an air of such gracious 
humility that every hearer seemed to do part 
of the thinking ; Alcott called his lectures 
"conversations," and then was made obviously 
unhappy if his monologue was seriously dis- 
turbed by any one else. Emerson's most star- 
tling early paradoxes were given with such dig- 
nity that those hearers most hilariously dis- 
posed were subdued to gravity ; Alcott's most 
thoughtful sentences, at the same period, some- 
times came with such a flavor of needless whim- 
sicality as to make even the faithful smile. 

Yet there was between them a tie as incapa- 
ble of severance as that which united the Siam- 
ese twins. Mr. Emerson found in the once 
famous Chardon-Street and Bible Conventions 
no result so interesting as the "gradual but 
sure ascendency" of Mr. Alcott's spirit — " in 
spite," wrote this plain-spoken friend, " of the 
incredulity and derision with which he is at 
first received, and in spite, we might add, of his 
own failures." Mr. Alcott, as has been said, 
devoted his last years to the delineation of 
Emerson as the greatest of men. Yet so sin- 
cere was this mutual admiration, so noble this 
love, that it is impossible to speak of it with 
anything but reverence ; and the far wider 



26 CONTEMPORARIES 

fame and influence of Emerson made it for 
Alcott, during his whole life, an immense advan- 
tage to have the unfailing support of a friend 
so eminent. 

For it must be remembered that during many- 
years the public was scarcely in the habit of 
taking Mr. Alcott seriously. It received him, 
as Emerson said, "with incredulity and deri- 
sion." His antecedents seemed a little ques- 
tionable, to begin with. Born in a country vil- 
lage in Connecticut, and occupied for many- 
years in the humble vocation of a traveling 
salesman in Virginia, — not to say peddler, — 
he came, in 1828, before the somewhat narrow 
intellectual circles of Boston in a wholly differ- 
ent light from Emerson, who had every advan- 
tage of local prestige. Alcott's school, which 
became celebrated through the " Record of a 
School," by his friend and assistant, Miss Eliz- 
abeth P. Peabody (Boston, 1835 ; 2d ed -, 1836), 
was generally regarded as coming near the 
edge of absurdity, because of the rather obtru- 
sive reverence paid in it to the offhand re- 
marks of children six years old, and because 
of the singular theory of vicarious punishment 
which sometimes led to the giving of physical 
pain to teacher instead of pupil. Yet this 
school undoubtedly anticipated in some respects 
the views of teaching now recognized ; it won 



AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 27 

the warm approval of James Pierrepont Greaves, 
the pupil and English interpreter of Pestalozzi ; 
and it led to the establishment of an " Alcott 
House School " at Ham (Surrey), in England, 
by Henry G. Wright, afterward Mr. Alcott' s 
colaborer in another direction. Mr. Alcott him- 
self visited this school in 1842, and was lionized 
to his heart's content — which is saying a good 
deal — among English reformers. Some ac- 
count of this visit and of the English enter- 
prise will be found in a paper by Mr. Emerson 
in the " Dial " for October, 1842. Mr. Alcott's 
first conspicuous social movement was in the 
very vague direction of the Fruitlands Com- 
munity, at Harvard, Mass., a scheme which 
was as much wilder than Brook Farm as Brook 
Farm was than Stewart's dry-goods shop, and 
which was amusingly delineated by Miss Louisa 
Alcott in one of her minor sketches. His first 
intellectual demonstrations were in the " Orphic 
Sayings " of the " Dial," which were regarded 
at the time as the reductio ad absurdum of 
those daring pages. How were people to take 
a man seriously who wrote, " The popular gene- 
sis is historical," and "Love globes, wisdom 
orbs everything " ? These sentences now seem 
quite harmless, though perhaps a little enig- 
matical ; but they were then held to be the 
worst shibboleth of that new bugbear, Tran- 



28 CONTEMPORARIES 

scendentalism ; and they represented the most 
unpopular aspect of the "Dial," while the more 
plain-spoken essays of Theodore Parker were 
what sold the numbers, so far as they ever did 
sell. Then, what Mr. Alcott called conversa- 
tions, in his earlier days, were such startling 
improvisations, so full of seemingly studied 
whim and utter paradox, that those who went 
to learn remained to smile. There was plenty 
of thought in them, and much out-of-the-way 
literary knowledge ; but, after all, the theories 
of race, food, genesis, and what not, left but 
little impression on the public mind. It awak- 
ened some surprise when the first volume of 
"Appletons' Cyclopaedia" (in 1857) contained a 
sketch of Alcott, written by Emerson. Thence- 
forward Alcott's claim to recognition stood on a 
basis a little firmer ; but he had up to this time 
paid the price which a hopelessly ideal temper- 
ament must pay before it has established its 
right to live. 

It was fortunate for Mr. Alcott that with this 
ideal tendency he combined in a high degree 
the qualities of moral and physical courage 
which have in all ages been held essential to 
the true sage. This was hardly tested in the 
milder and safer reforms, in which he took a 
certain enjoyment, partly founded on the promi- 
nence they gave him. He was unquestionably 



AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 29 

one of those who like to sit upon a platform, to 
be pointed out, digito monstrari, and he may 
have liked to feel that his venerable aspect had 
the effect of a benediction. But he was equally 
true to the anti-slavery movement, when that 
meant the sacrifice of friends, the diminution 
of his always scanty finances, and even the 
physical danger involved in mobs. Once at 
least, in a notable instance, he proved himself 
personally brave when many others seemed 
cowards, this being on the night of the at- 
tempted rescue of the fugitive Anthony Burns, 
in Boston (May 26, 1854). 1 

It is probably true that in the later years of 
his life Mr. Alcott felt some reaction from the 
theological radicalism which at one time marked 
him, and which made him in this direction a 
source of influence over others. At the first 
annual meeting of the Free Religious Asso- 
ciation in 1868, he affirmed his belief of the 
simple humanity of Jesus Christ, and of the 
essential identity of all forms of the religious 
sentiment. He said of this position : — 

" So fine, so sublime a religion as ours, older 
than Christ, old as the Godhead, old as the 
soul, eternal as the heavens, solid as the rock, 
is and only is ; nothing else is but that, and it 

1 For the details of Mr. Alcott's demeanor during this 
little incident see my Cheerful Yesterdays, p. 148. 



30 CONTEMPORARIES 

is in us and is us ; and nothing is our real 
selves but that in the breast." 

So identified was he with the whole spirit of 
that meeting as to say of it, " I have seen 
many charmed days, and shared sublime hopes ; 
but this, of all days I have yet seen, is the 
most sublime." But during the later years of 
his life, though he shared in the very last meet- 
ing of this same Association, he seemed to re- 
vert more towards the historical Christianity 
in which his childhood was reared, taking an 
active part in various " symposia " held by Mr. 
Joseph Cook, at which the veteran free-thinker 
was received with many blandishments, and was 
introduced without compunction to strangers as 
"Mr. Alcott, the American Plato." 

Mr. Alcott's published volumes were as fol- 
lows : " Conversations with Children on the 
Gospels, conducted and edited by A. B. Al- 
cott," 2 vols. (Boston: Munroe, 1836-37); 
" Spiritual Culture, or Thoughts for the Con- 
sideration of Parents and Teachers " (Boston : 
Dowe, 1 84 1 [this was anonymous, but was at- 
tributed to Mr. Alcott by Charles Lane in 
"Dial" hi. 417]); "Tablets" (Boston: Rob- 
erts, 1868); "Concord Days" (Boston: Rob- 
erts, 1872) ; " Sonnets and Canzonets " (Boston : 
Roberts, 1882). To these must be added a 
preliminary sketch of Emerson, printed but not 



AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 31 

published, and also many contributions to the 
"Dial" (1840-44), the "Radical," and other 
magazines. In the " Atlantic Monthly," (ix. 
443) he wrote one of the best sketches yet 
made of Thoreau, under the title "The For- 
ester." But he was less disposed to pride him- 
self upon his books than upon his chosen mode 
of influence, conversation ; and it was through 
this, rather than by anything placed in the per- 
manent record of print, that his influence was 
exerted. He wrote in the "Dial," in 1842, 
" We must come to the simplest intercourse — 
to Conversation and the Epistle. These are 
most potent agencies — the reformers of the 
world" (ii. 431). And he might well feel it a 
tribute to his real power in this chosen form of 
propagandism, that, after his audiences in the 
Eastern States had grown less numerous and 
less attentive, he should have found a wide cir- 
cle scattered through different Western cities, 
where parlors and pulpits were opened to him 
for an annual tour of conversation and discourse, 
sending him back each year happy, refreshed, 
and — wonder of all wonders — with money in 
his purse. 

Mr. Alcott contributed even less than Emer- 
son to anything that can be called systematic 
thought ; he was indeed by nature more remote 
than Emerson from anything to be called a sys- 



32 CONTEMPORARIES 

tern. Yet the good that he did was not merely 
fragmentary and sporadic; it might rather be 
called, using one of his own high-sounding ad- 
jectives, atmospheric ; it lay in the atmosphere 
of the man, his benign face, his pure life, his 
only too willing acceptance of everything that 
looked like original thought in others. More 
than all, it lay in the persistent moral activity 
that could outlive what Emerson called his 
" failure," could outgrow the censure of his 
critics, outgrow even his earlier self. In some 
respects he always remained the same, even 
to his weaknesses ; there was always a cer- 
tain air of high-souled attitudinizing ; he still 
seemed to be in a manner " an innocent charla- 
tan." Even his latest achievement, the " Con- 
cord Summer School of Philosophy," had al- 
ways an indefinable air of posing for something 
that it was not. It undoubtedly fulfilled Mr. 
Alcott's most delicious visions to find himself 
the centre of an admiring group of young dis- 
ciples, having the Assabet River for an Ilissus 
and the Concord elms for the historic plane- 
trees ; but, after all, the institution, like its 
name, was a little incongruous ; there was 
plenty of summer, something of philosophy, 
and very little school. Probably most of those 
who were assembled came simply with a desire 
to place themselves in contact with Mr. Alcott ; 



AMOS BRONSON ALCOTT 33 

and this was the highest compliment they could 
pay him. They instinctively felt, as all may 
well feel, that the essential fidelity of the man 
to great abstract principles made him a living 
exponent, not merely of the temporary school 
of Transcendentalism, but of the whole ideal 
attitude. Now that he has passed away, all his 
little vanities, if he had them, — all his oracular 
way of peering into the dark and winning but 
little out of it, — these defects, if they were 
defects, disappear in the sweetness and dignity 
of a life so prolonged and so honorable. There 
lives no man who ever found in Mr. Alcott an 
enemy ; there exists no man who ever went to 
him for counsel and found him unsympathetic 
or impatient ; while there are many men who, 
at the forming period of their intellectual ex- 
istence, have derived from him a lifelong im- 
petus towards noble aims. 



THEODORE PARKER 

" Sir Launcelot ! ther thou lyest ; thou were never matched of none 
earthly knights hands ; thou were the truest freende to thy lover that ever 
bestrood horse; and thou were the kindest man that ever strooke with 
sword ; and thou were the sternest knight to thy mortall foe that ever put 
spere in the rest." 

La Morte d' Arthur. 

In the year 1828 there was a young man of 
eighteen at work upon a farm in Lexington, 
Massachusetts, performing bodily labor to the 
extent of twenty hours in a day sometimes, and 
that for several days together, and at other 
times studying intensely when outdoor work 
was less pressing. Thirty years after, that 
same man sat in the richest private library 
in Boston, working habitually from twelve to 
seventeen hours a day in severer toil. The 
interval was crowded with labors, with acqui- 
sitions, with reproaches, with victories, with 
honors ; and he who experienced all this died 
exhausted at the end of it, less than fifty years 
old, but looking seventy. That man was Theo- 
dore Parker, who was born at Lexington, August 
24, 1 8 10, and died at Florence, Italy, May 10, 
i860. 

Theodore Parker was so strong and self- 



THEODORE PARKER 35 

sufficing upon his own ground, he needed so 
little from any other person, while giving so 
freely to all, that one would hardly venture to 
add anything to the autobiographies he has left, 
but for the high example he set of fearlessness 
in dealing with the dead. There may be some 
whose fame is so ill-established, that one shrinks 
from speaking of them precisely as one saw 
them ; but this man's place is secure, and that 
friend best praises him who paints him just as 
he seemed. To depict him as he actually was 
must be the work of many men, and no single 
narrator, however intimate, need attempt it. 

The first thing that struck an observer, in lis- 
tening to the words of public and private feeling 
elicited by his departure, was the predominance 
in them all of the sentiment of love. His ser- 
vices, his speculations, his contests, his copious 
eloquence, his many languages, — these came 
in as secondary things, but the predominant 
testimony was emotional. Men mourned the 
friend even more than the warrior. As he sat 
in his library, in Boston, he was not only the 
awakener of a thousand intellects, but the centre 
of a thousand hearts ; he furnished the natural 
home for every foreign refugee, every hunted 
slave, every stray thinker, every vexed and sor- 
rowing woman. Never was there one of these 
who went away uncomforted, and from every 



36 CONTEMPORARIES 

part of this broad nation their scattered hands 
have flung roses upon his grave. 

This immense debt of gratitude was not 
bought by any mere isolated acts of virtue, but 
by the habit of a life. In the midst of his great- 
est cares there never was a moment when he 
was not all too generous of his time, his wisdom, 
and his money. Borne down by the accumula- 
tion of labors, — grudging, as a student grudges, 
the precious hour that once lost can never be 
won back, — he yet was always holding himself 
at the call of some poor criminal at the Police 
Office, or some fugitive from Southern bond- 
age, or some sick girl in a suburban town, not 
of his recognized parish, perhaps, but longing 
for the ministry of the only preacher who had 
touched her soul. Not a mere wholesale re- 
former, he wore out his life by retailing its great 
influences to the poorest comer. Not generous 
in money only, — though the readiness of his 
beneficence in that direction had few equals, — 
he always hastened past that minor bestowal to 
ask if there were not some other added gift 
possible, some personal service or correspond- 
ence, some life-blood, in short, to be lavished in 
some other form, to eke out the already liberal 
donation of dollars. 

There is an impression that he was unforgiv- 
ing. Unforgetting he certainly was ; for he 



THEODORE PARKER 37 

had no power of f orgetfulness, whether for good 
or evil. He had none of that convenient 
oblivion which in softer natures covers sin and 
saintliness with one common, careless pall. So 
long as a man persisted in a wrong attitude be- 
fore God or man, there was no day so laborious 
or exhausting, no night so long or drowsy, but 
Theodore Parker's unsleeping memory stood on 
guard full-armed, ready to do battle at a mo- 
ment's warning. This is generally known ; but 
what may not be known so widely is that, the 
moment the adversary lowered his spear, were 
it for only an inch or an instant, that moment 
Theodore Parker's weapons were down and his 
arms open. Make but the slightest concession, 
give him but the least excuse to love you, and 
never was there seen such promptness in par- 
doning. His friends found it sometimes harder 
to justify his mildness than his severity. I con- 
fess that I, with others, have often felt inclined 
to criticise a certain caustic tone of his, in pri- 
vate talk, when the name of an offender was 
alluded to ; but I have also felt almost indignant 
at his lenient good-nature to that very person, 
let him once show the smallest symptom of 
contrition, or seek, even in the clumsiest way, 
or for the most selfish purpose, to disarm his 
generous antagonist. His forgiveness in such 
cases was more exuberant than his wrath had 
ever been. 



38 CONTEMPORARIES 

It is inevitable, in describing him, to charac- 
terize his life first by its quantity. He belonged 
to the true race of the giants of learning ; he 
took in knowledge at every pore, and his desires 
were insatiable. Not, perhaps, precocious in 
boyhood, — for it is not precocity to begin Latin 
at ten and Greek at eleven, to enter the Fresh- 
man class at twenty and the professional school 
at twenty-three, — he was equaled by few stu- 
dents in the tremendous rates at which he pur- 
sued every study, when once begun. With 
strong body and great constitutional industry, 
always acquiring and never forgetting, he was 
doubtless at the time of his death the most va- 
riously learned of living Americans, as well as 
one of the most prolific of orators and writers. 

Why did Theodore Parker die ? He died pre- 
maturely worn out through this enormous activ- 
ity, — a warning, as well as an example. To 
all appeals for moderation, during the latter 
years of his life, he had but one answer, — that 
he had six generations of long-lived farmers be- 
hind him, and had their strength to draw upon. 
All his physical habits, except in this respect, 
were unexceptionable : he was abstemious in 
diet, but not ascetic, kept no unwholesome 
hours, tried no dangerous experiments, commit- 
ted no excesses. But there is no man who can 
habitually study from twelve to seventeen hours 



THEODORE PARKER 39 

a day — his friend James Freeman Clarke con- 
tracts it to " from six to twelve," but I have 
Mr. Parker's own statement of the fact — with- 
out ultimate self-destruction. Nor was this the 
practice during his period of health alone, but it 
was pushed to the last moment. He continued 
in the pulpit long after a withdrawal was per- 
emptorily prescribed for him ; and when forbid- 
den to leave home for lecturing, during the win- 
ter of 1858, he straightway prepared the most 
laborious literary works of his life, for delivery 
as lectures in the Fraternity Course at Boston. 
He worked thus, not from ambition, nor alto- 
gether from principle, but from an immense 
craving for mental labor, which had become 
second nature to him. His great, omnivorous, 
hungry intellect must have constant food, — new 
languages, new statistics, new historical investi- 
gations, new scientific discoveries, new systems 
of scriptural exegesis. He did not for a day in 
the year nor an hour in the day make rest a 
matter of principle, nor did he ever indulge in 
it as a pleasure, for he knew no enjoyment so 
great as labor. Wordsworth's "wise passive- 
ness " was utterly foreign to his nature. Had 
he been a mere student, this had been less de- 
structive. But to take the standard of study of 
a German professor, and superadd to that the 
separate exhaustions of a Sunday preacher, a 



40 CONTEMPORARIES 

lyceum lecturer, a radical leader, and a practical 
philanthropist, was simply to apply half a dozen 
distinct suicides to the abbreviation of a single 
life. And as his younger companions had long 
assured him, the tendency of his career was 
not only to kill himself, but them ; for each 
assumed that he must at least attempt what 
Theodore Parker accomplished. 

It is very certain that his career was much 
shortened by these enormous labors, and it is 
not certain that its value was increased in a 
sufficient ratio to compensate for that evil. He 
justified his incessant winter lecturing by the 
fact that the whole country was his parish, 
though this was not an adequate excuse. But 
what right had he to deprive himself even of the 
accustomed summer respite of ordinary preach- 
ers, and waste the golden July hours in studying 
Sclavonic dialects ? No doubt his work in the 
world was greatly aided both by the fact and 
the fame of learning, and, as he himself some- 
what disdainfully said, the knowledge of Greek 
and Hebrew was "a convenience " in theologi- 
cal discussions ; but, after all, his popular power 
did not mainly depend on his mastery of twenty 
languages, but of one. Theodore Parker's learn- 
ing was undoubtedly a valuable possession to 
the community, but it was not worth the price 
of Theodore Parker's life. 



THEODORE PARKER 41 

" Strive constantly to concentrate yourself," 
said the laborious Goethe; "never dissipate 
your powers ; incessant activity, of whatever 
kind, leads finally to bankruptcy." But Theo- 
dore Parker's whole endeavor was to multiply 
his channels, and he exhausted his life in the 
effort to do all men's work. He was a hard man 
to relieve, to help, or to cooperate with. Thus, 
the " Massachusetts Quarterly Review," his 
especial organ, began with a promising corps 
of contributors ; but when it appeared that its 
editor, if left alone, would willingly undertake 
all the articles, — science, history, literature, 
everything, — of course the others yielded to 
inertia and dropped away. So, some years later, 
when some of us met at his house to consult on 
a cheap series of popular theological works, he 
himself was so rich in his own private plans that 
all the rest were impoverished ; nothing could 
be named but he had been planning just that 
for years, and should by and by get leisure for 
it, and there really was not enough left to call 
out the energies of any one else. Not from 
any petty egotism, but simply from inordinate 
activity, he stood ready to take all the parts. 

He thus distanced everybody ; every com- 
panion scholar found soon that it was impos- 
sible to keep pace with one who was always ac- 
cumulating and losing nothing. Most students 



42 CONTEMPORARIES 

find it necessary to be constantly forgetting some 
things to make room for later arrivals ; but the 
peculiarity of his memory was that he let no- 
thing go. I have more than once heard him give 
a minute analysis of the contents of some dull 
book read by him twenty years before, and 
have afterwards found the statement correct 
and exhaustive. His great library, although 
latterly collected more for public than personal 
uses, was one which no other man in the nation, 
probably, had at that time the bibliographical 
knowledge to select. It seems as if its pos- 
sessor, putting all his practical and popular side 
into his eloquence and action, had indemnified 
himself by investing all his scholarship in a 
library of which less than one quarter of the 
books were in the English language. 

All unusual learning, however, brings with 
it the suspicion of superficiality ; and in this 
country, where, as Parker himself said, " every 
one gets a mouthful of education, but scarce 
one a full meal," — where every one who makes 
a Latin quotation is styled " a ripe scholar," — 
it is sometimes difficult to distinguish the true 
from the counterfeit. It is, however, possible 
to apply some tests. I remember, for instance, 
that one of the few undoubted classical scholars, 
in the old-fashioned sense, whom New England 
has seen, — the late John Glen King of Salem, 



THEODORE PARKER 43 

— while speaking* with very limited respect of 
the acquirements of Rufus Choate in this direc- 
tion, and with utter contempt of those of Daniel 
Webster, always became enthusiastic on coming 
to Theodore Parker. " He is the only man," 
said Mr. King more than once to the writer, 
"with whom I can sit down and seriously dis- 
cuss a disputed reading and find him familiar 
with all that has been written upon it." Yet 
Greek and Latin were only the preliminaries 
of Parker's scholarship. 

I know, for one, — and there are many who 
will bear the same testimony, — that I never 
went to Parker to talk over a subject which 
I had just made a specialty, without finding 
that on that particular matter he happened to 
know, without any special investigation, more 
than I did. This extended beyond books, some- 
times stretching into things where his ques- 
tioner's opportunities of knowledge had seemed 
considerably greater, — as, for instance, in points 
connected with the habits of our native animals 
and the phenomena of outdoor Nature. Such 
were his wonderful quickness and his infallible 
memory, that glimpses of these things did for 
him the work of years. But of course it was 
in the world of books that this wonderful supe- 
riority was chiefly seen, and the following ex- 
ample may serve as one of the most striking 
among many. 



44 CONTEMPORARIES 

It happened to me, many years since, in the 
course of some historical inquiries, to wish for 
fuller information in regard to the barbarous 
feudal codes of the Middle Ages, — as the Salic, 
Burgundian, and Ripuarian, — before the time 
of Charlemagne. The common historians, even 
Hallam, gave no very satisfactory information 
and referred to no very available books ; and 
supposing it to be a matter of which every well- 
read lawyer would at least know something, I 
asked help of the most scholarly member of 
that profession within my reach — a man who 
is now, by the way, a leader in the United 
States Senate. He regretted his inability to 
give me any aid, but referred me to a friend 
of his, who was soon to visit him, a young man 
who was already eminent for legal learning. 
The friend soon arrived, but owned, with some 
regret, that he had paid no attention to that 
particular subject, and did not even know what 
books to refer to ; but he would at least ascer- 
tain what they were, and let me know. [I may 
add that although he is now a Justice of the 
Supreme Court of the United States, I have 
never heard from him again.] Stimulated by 
ill-success, I aimed higher, and struck at the 
Supreme Bench of Massachusetts, breaking in 
on the mighty repose of his Honor with the 
name of Charlemagne. " Charlemagne ? " re- 



THEODORE PARKER 45 

sponded my lord judge, rubbing his burly brow, 
— " Charlemagne lived, I think, in the sixth 
century ? " Dismayed, I retreated, with little 
further inquiry ; and sure of one man, at least, 
to whom law meant also history and literature, 
I took refuge with Charles Sumner. That 
accomplished scholar, himself for once at fault, 
could only frankly advise me to do at last what 
I ought to have done at first, — to apply to 
Theodore Parker. I did so. " Go," he replied 
instantly, "to alcove twenty -four, shelf one 
hundred and thirteen, of the College Library at 
Cambridge, and you will find the information 
you need in a thick quarto, bound in vellum, 
and lettered 'Potgiesser de Statu Servorum.' " 
I straightway sent for Potgiesser, and found my 
fortune made. It was one of those patient old 
German treatises which cost the labor of one 
man's life to compile and another's to exhaust, 
and I had no reason to suppose that any reader 
had disturbed its repose until that unwearied 
industry had explored the library. 

Amid such multiplicity of details he must 
sometimes have made mistakes, and with his 
great quickness of apprehension he sometimes 
formed hasty conclusions. But no one has a 
right to say that his great acquirements were 
bought by any habitual sacrifice of thorough- 
ness. To say that they sometimes impaired 



46 CONTEMPORARIES 

the quality of his thought would undoubtedly 
be more just ; and this is a serious charge to 
bring. Learning is not accumulation, but as- 
similation ; every man's real acquirements must 
pass into his own organization, and undue or 
hasty nutrition does no good. The most price- 
less knowledge is not worth the smallest im- 
pairing of the quality of the thinking. The 
scholar cannot afford, any more than the farmer, 
to lavish his strength in clearing more land 
than he can cultivate ; and Theodore Parker 
was compelled by the natural limits of time and 
strength to let vast tracts lie fallow, and to 
miss something of the natural resources of the 
soil. One sometimes wished that he had stud- 
ied less and dreamed more. 

But it was in popularizing thought and know- 
ledge that his great and wonderful power lay. 
Not an original thinker, in the same sense with 
Emerson, he yet translated for tens of thou- 
sands that which Emerson spoke to hundreds 
only. No matter who had been heard on any 
subject, the great mass of intelligent, "pro- 
gressive " New England thinkers waited to hear 
the thing summed up by Theodore Parker. 
This popular interest went far beyond the cir- 
cle of his avowed sympathizers ; he might be 
a heretic, but nobody could deny that he was a 
marksman. No matter how well others seemed 



THEODORE PARKER 47 

to have hit the target, his shot was the tri- 
umphant one, at last. Thinkers might find no 
new thought in the new discourse, leaders of 
action no new plan, yet, after all that had been 
said and done, his was the statement that told 
upon the community. He knew this power 
of his, and had analyzed some of the methods 
by which he had attained it, though, after all, 
the best part was an unconscious and magnetic 
faculty. But he early learned, so he once told 
me, that the New England people dearly love 
two things, — a philosophical arrangement and 
a plenty of statistics. To these, therefore, he 
treated them thoroughly ; in some of his " Ten 
Sermons " the demand made upon the syste- 
matizing power of his audience was really for- 
midable ; and I have always remembered a 
certain lecture of his on the Anglo-Saxons as 
the most wonderful instance that ever came 
within my knowledge of the adaptation of solid 
learning to the popular intellect. Nearly two 
hours of almost unadorned fact, — for there 
was far less than usual of relief and illustra- 
tion, — and yet the lyceum audience listened 
to it as if an angel sang to them. So perfect 
was his sense of purpose and of power, so 
clear and lucid was his delivery, with such won- 
derful composure did he lay out, section by 
section, his historical chart, that he grasped his 



48 CONTEMPORARIES 

hearers as absolutely as he grasped his sub- 
ject, — one was compelled to believe that he 
might read the people the Sanskrit Lexicon, 
and they would listen with ever fresh delight. 
Without actual grace or beauty or melody, his 
mere elocution was sufficient to produce effects 
for which melody and grace and beauty might 
have sighed in vain. I always felt that he well 
described his own eloquence while describing 
Luther's, in one of the most admirably moulded 
sentences he ever achieved, — " The homely 
force of Luther, who, in the language of the 
farm, the shop, the boat, the street, or the 
nursery, told the high truths that reason or 
religion taught, and took possession of his audi- 
ence by a storm of speech, then poured upon 
them all the riches of his brave plebeian soul, 
baptizing every head anew, — a man who with 
the people seemed more mob than they, and 
with kings the most imperial man." 

Another key to his strong hold upon the 
popular mind was to be found in his thorough 
Americanism of training and sympathy. Sur- 
charged with European learning, he yet re- 
mained at heart the Lexington farmer's boy, 
and his whole harvest was indigenous, not ex- 
otic. Not haunted by any of the distrust and 
over-criticism which are apt to effeminate the 
American scholar, he plunged deep into the 



THEODORE PARKER 49 

current of hearty national life around him, loved 
it, trusted it, believed in it ; and the combina- 
tion of this vital faith with such tremendous 
criticism of public and private sins formed an 
irresistible power. He could condemn with- 
out crushing, — denounce mankind, yet save it 
from despair. Thus his pulpit became one of 
the great forces of the nation, like the New 
York "Tribune." His printed volumes had 
but a limited circulation, owing to a defective 
system of publication, which his friends tried 
in vain to correct ; but the circulation of his 
pamphlet discourses was very great ; he issued 
them faster and faster, latterly often in pairs, 
and they instantly spread far and wide. Ac- 
cordingly he found his listeners everywhere ; 
he could not go so far West but his abundant 
fame had preceded him; his lecture room in 
the remotest places was crowded, and his hotel 
chamber also, until late at night. Probably 
there was no private man in the nation, un- 
less it were Beecher or Greeley, whom personal 
strangers were so eager to see ; while from a 
transatlantic direction he was sought by vis- 
itors to whom the two other names were utterly 
unknown. Learned men from the continent of 
Europe always found their way, first or last, to 
Exeter Place ; and it is said that Thackeray, on 
his voyage to this country, declared that the 



50 CONTEMPORARIES 

thing in America which he most desired was to 
hear Theodore Parker talk. 

Indeed, his conversational power was so won- 
derful that no one could go away from a first 
interview without astonishment and delight. 
There are those among us, it may be, more 
brilliant in anecdote or repartee, more eloquent, 
more profoundly suggestive ; but for the out- 
pouring of vast floods of various and delightful 
information, I believe that he could have had 
no Anglo-Saxon rival, except Macaulay. In 
Parker's case, moreover, there was no alloy 
of conversational arrogance or impatience of 
opposition. He monopolized not because he 
was ever unwilling to hear others, but because 
they did not care to hear themselves when he 
was by. The subject made no difference ; he 
could talk on anything. I was once with him 
in the society of an intelligent Quaker farmer, 
when the conversation fell on agriculture : the 
farmer held his own ably for a time ; but long 
after he was drained dry, our wonderful com- 
panion still flowed on exhaustless, with ac- 
counts of Nova Scotia ploughing and Tennes- 
see hoeing, and all things rural, ancient and 
modern, good and bad, till it seemed as if the 
one amusing and interesting theme in the uni- 
verse were the farm. But it soon proved that 
this was only one among his thousand depart- 



THEODORE PARKER 51 

ments, and his hearers felt, as was said of old 
Fuller, as if he had served his time at every 
trade in town. 

But it must now be owned that these aston- 
ishing results were bought by some intellectual 
sacrifices which his nearer friends do not all re- 
cognize, but which posterity will mourn. Such 
a rate of speed is incompatible with the finest 
literary execution. A delicate literary ear he 
might have had, perhaps, but he very seldom 
stopped to cultivate or even indulge it. This 
neglect was not produced by his frequent habit 
of extemporaneous speech alone ; for it is a 
singular fact that Wendell Phillips, who rarely 
wrote a line, yet contrived to give to his has- 
tiest efforts the air of elaborate preparation, 
while Theodore Parker's most scholarly per- 
formances were still stump speeches. Vigor- 
ous, rich, brilliant, copious, they yet seldom 
afford a sentence which falls in perfect cadence 
upon the ear ; under a show of regular method, 
they are loose and diffuse, and often have the 
qualities which he himself attributed to the 
style of John Quincy Adams, — " disorderly, ill- 
compacted, and homely to a fault." He said 
of Dr. Channing, — " Diff useness is the old 
Adam of the pulpit. There are always two 
ways of hitting the mark, — one with a single 
bullet, the other with a shower of small shot : 



52 CONTEMPORARIES 

Dr. Channing chose the latter, as most of our 
pulpit orators have done." Theodore Parker 
chose it also. 

Perhaps nature and necessity chose it for 
him. If not his temperament, at least the cir- 
cumstances of his position cut him off from all 
high literary finish. He created the congrega- 
tion at the Music Hall, and that congregation, 
in turn, moulded his whole life. For that great 
stage his eloquence became inevitably a kind of 
brilliant scene painting, — large, fresh, profuse, 
rapid, showy ; masses of light and shade, won- 
derful effects, but farewell forever to all finer 
touches and delicate gradations ! No man 
can write for posterity while hastily snatching 
a half day from a week's lecturing, during 
which to prepare a telling Sunday harangue 
for three thousand people. In the perpetual 
rush and hurry of his life, he had no time to 
select, to discriminate, to omit anything, or to 
mature anything. He had the opportunities, 
the provocatives, and the drawbacks which 
make the work and mar the fame of the pro- 
fessional journalist. His intellectual existence, 
after he left the quiet of West Roxbury, was 
from hand to mouth. Needing above all men 
to concentrate himself, he was compelled by 
his whole position to lead a profuse and mis- 
cellaneous life. 



THEODORE PARKER 53 

All popular orators must necessarily repeat 
themselves, — preachers chiefly among orators, 
and Theodore Parker chiefly among preachers. 
The mere frequency of production makes this 
inevitable, — a fact which always makes every 
finely organized intellect, first or last, grow 
weary of the pulpit. But in his case there 
were other compulsions. Every Sunday a 
quarter part of his vast congregation consisted 
of persons who had never, or scarcely ever, 
heard him before, and who might never hear 
him again. Not one of those visitors must go 
away, therefore, without hearing the great 
preacher define his position on every point, — 
not theology alone, but all current events and 
permanent principles, the presidential nomina- 
tion or message, the laws of trade, the laws of 
Congress, woman's rights, woman's costume, 
Boston slave-kidnappers, and Dr. Banbaby, — 
he must put it all in. His ample discourse 
must be like an Oriental poem, which begins 
with the creation of the universe, and includes 
all subsequent facts incidentally. It is astonish- 
ing to look over his published sermons and 
addresses, and see under how many different 
names the same stirring speech has been re- 
printed : new illustrations, new statistics, and all 
remoulded with such freshness that the hearer 
had no suspicions, nor the speaker, either, — 



54 CONTEMPORARIES 

and yet the same essential thing. Sunday dis- 
course, lyceum lecture, convention speech, it 
made no difference, he must cover all the points 
every time. No matter what theme might be 
announced, the people got the whole latitude 
and longitude of Theodore Parker, and that 
was precisely what they wanted. He, more 
than any other man among us, broke down 
the traditional non-committalism of the lecture 
room, and oxygenated all the lyceums of the 
land. He thus multiplied his audience very 
greatly, while doubtless losing to some degree 
the power of close logic and of addressing a 
specific statement to a special point. Yet it 
seemed as if he could easily leave the lancet 
to others, grant him only the hammer and the 
forge. 

Ah, but the long centuries, where the read- 
ing of books is concerned, set aside all con- 
siderations of quantity, of popularity, of im- 
mediate influence, and sternly test by quality 
alone, — judge each author by his most golden 
sentence, and let all else go. The deeds make 
the man, but it is the style which makes or 
dooms the writer. History, which always 
sends great men in groups, gave us Emerson 
by whom to test the intellectual qualities of 
Parker. They cooperated in their work from 
the beginning, but not in the same mutual re- 



THEODORE PARKER 55 

lation as now ; in looking back over the rich 
volumes of the " Dial," the reader now passes 
by the contributions of Parker to glean every 
sentence of Emerson's, but we have the latter's 
authority for the fact that it was the former's 
articles which originally sold the numbers. In- 
tellectually, the two men formed the comple- 
ment to each other ; it was Parker who reached 
the mass of the people, but it is probable that 
all his writings put together have not had so pro- 
found an influence on the intellectual leaders 
of the nation as the single address of Emerson 
at Divinity Hall. 

And it is difficult not to notice, in that essay 
in which Theodore Parker ventured on higher 
intellectual ground, perhaps, than anywhere else 
in his writings, — his critique on Emerson in 
the "Massachusetts Quarterly," — the indica- 
tions of this mental disparity. It is in many 
respects a noble essay, full of fine moral appre- 
ciations, bravely generous, admirable in the loy- 
alty of spirit shown towards a superior mind, and 
all warm with a personal friendship which could 
find no superior. But so far as literary execu- 
tion is concerned, the beautiful sentences of 
Emerson stand out like fragments of carved 
marble from the rough plaster in which they 
are imbedded. Nor this alone ; but on draw- 
ing near the vestibule of the author's finest 



56 CONTEMPORARIES 

thoughts, the critic almost always stops, unable 
quite to enter their sphere. Subtile beauties 
puzzle him ; the titles of the poems, for in- 
stance, giving by delicate allusion the keynote 
of each, — as " Astraea," " Mithridates," " Ha- 
matreya," and "Etienne de la Boece," — seem 
to him the work of "mere caprice;" he pro- 
nounces the poem of "Monadnoc" "poor and 
weak," and condemns and satirizes the " Wood- 
Notes." 

The same want of fine discrimination was 
usually visible in his delineations of great men 
in public life. Immense in accumulation of 
details, terrible in the justice which held the 
balance, they yet left one with the feeling, 
that, after all, the delicate mainsprings of char- 
acter had been missed. Broad contrasts, heaps 
of good and evil, almost exaggerated praises, 
pungent satire, catalogues of sins that seemed 
pages from some recording angel's book, — 
these were his mighty methods; but for the 
subtilest analysis, the deepest insight into the 
mysteries of character, one must look else- 
where. It was still scene painting, not portrait- 
ure; and the same thing which overwhelmed 
with wonder when heard in the Music Hall, 
produced a slight sense of insufficiency when 
read in print. It was certainly very great in 
its way, but not quite in the highest way ; it was 



THEODORE PARKER 57 

preliminary work, not final ; it was Parker's 
Webster, not Emerson's Swedenborg or Na- 
poleon. 

The same thing was often manifested in his 
criticisms on current events. The broad 
truths were stated without fear or favor, the 
finer aspects were sometimes passed over, and 
the special opportunity was thus sometimes 
missed. His sermons on current revivals, for 
instance, had an enormous circulation, and told 
with great force upon those who had not been 
swept into the movement, and even upon some 
who had been. The difficulty was that they 
were just such discourses as he would have 
preached in the time of Edwards and the 
" Great Awakening ; " and the point which 
many thought the one astonishing feature of 
the new excitement, its almost entire omission 
of the "terrors of the Lord, " — the far gentler 
and more winning type of religion which it 
displayed, and from which it confessedly drew 
much of its power, — this was entirely ignored 
in Mr. Parker's sermons. He was too hard at 
work in combating the evangelical theology to 
recognize its altered phases. Forging light- 
ning-rods against the tempest, he did not see 
that the height of the storm had passed by. 

These are legitimate criticisms to make on 
Theodore Parker, for he was large enough to 



58 CONTEMPORARIES 

merit them. It is only the loftiest trees of 
which it occurs to us to remark that they do 
not touch the sky, and a man must comprise a 
great deal before we complain of him for not 
comprising everything. But though the closest 
scrutiny may sometimes find cases where he 
failed to see the most subtile and precious truth, 
it will never discover an instance where, seeing, 
he failed to proclaim it, or, proclaiming, failed 
to give it force and power. He lived his life 
much as he walked the streets of Boston, — 
not quite gracefully, nor yet statelily, but with 
quick, strong, solid step, with sagacious eyes 
wide open, and thrusting his broad shoulders a 
little forward, as if butting away the throng of 
evil deeds around him and scattering whole at- 
mospheres of unwholesome cloud. Wherever he 
went, there went a glance of sleepless vigilance, 
an unforgetting memory, a tongue that never 
faltered, and an arm that never quailed. Not 
primarily an administrative nor yet a military 
mind, he yet exerted a positive control over the 
whole community around him, by sheer mental 
and moral strength. He mowed down harvests 
of evil as in his youth he had mowed the grass, 
and all his hours of study were but whetting 
the scythe. 

And for this great work it was not essential 
that the blade should have a razor's edge. 



THEODORE PARKER 59 

Grant that Parker was not also Emerson ; no 
matter, he was Parker. If ever a man seemed 
sent into the world to find a certain position, 
and found it, he was that man. He made 
his great qualities seem so natural and inev- 
itable, we forgot that all did not share them. 
We forgot the scholar's proverbial reproach 
of timidity and selfishness, in watching him. 
While he lived, it seemed a matter of course 
that the greatest acquirements and the heartiest 
self-devotion should go together. Can we keep 
our strength, without the tonic of his example ? 
How petty it now seems to ask for any fine- 
drawn subtilties of poet or seer in him who 
gave his life to the cause of the humblest ! 
Life speaks the loudest. We do not ask what 
Luther said or wrote, but only what he did; 
and the name of Theodore Parker will not only 
long outlive his books, but will last far beyond 
the special occasions out of which he moulded 
his grand career. 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 

The popular poet laureate of this country 
passed away in peace on September 7, 1892, in 
the eighty-fifth year of his age, having been 
born at Haverhill, Mass., December 17, 1807. 
This longevity, aided by numerous biographies, 
has made the principal facts of his uneventful 
life well known to the public. Neither of the 
careers which he would fain have determined 
for himself was destined to be his. From jour- 
nalism as from politics the farmer's son was 
turned back to that simple inspiration of poet 
which was first recognized in him by his neigh- 
bor, the editor of the Newburyport "Free 
Press," afterwards the editor of the Boston 
" Liberator," William Lloyd Garrison. The 
friendship of these two men might well have led 
the younger, as disciple, to become entirely ab- 
sorbed in the agitation against slavery, in which 
he did, in fact, for a time do editorial service. 
Yet partly his political and partly his religious 
bias drew him away from Garrison at the time 
of the schism in the abolition ranks growing 
out of the political and sectarian differences, 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 61 

though in after years they came together with- 
out bitterness and with their old affection. 
Moreover, the poet was physically unfitted 

" to ride 
The winged Hippogriff Reform." 

He was all his life a victim of ill-health, having 
brought on neuralgia and headache by over- 
work in the early days of his journalism. For 
many years he could not write fifteen minutes 
at a time without a headache, and it is certain 
that his delicate health was for almost all his 
life a drawback to continuous mental exertion, 
although care and watchfulness greatly bene- 
fited his general condition during his later 
years. This improved health, together with 
other causes, produced in him an increase, not 
a diminution, as years went on, of sociability 
and freedom of intercourse. He became more 
frequently a guest at private houses, where 
nothing but a growing deafness prevented him 
from being a most delightful companion. His 
shyness visibly diminished — a quality so marked 
in early life that it sometimes seemed a posi- 
tive distress to him to be face to face with half 
a dozen people in a room. 

This habit showed itself chiefly in what is 
called society ; with men met for political or 
even business purposes he was more at home. 
He was for many years an active politician (in 



62 CONTEMPORARIES 

1835 an d 1836 he was a member of the Mas- 
sachusetts legislature), and was esteemed — 
though a poet — a man of excellent judgment 
in all public matters. He was a keen judge of 
character, was perfectly unselfish, and always 
appeared to look at affairs more with the eyes 
of a man of the people than with those of a 
student. Without making any words about it, 
he seemed held by early associations as well 
as principle to the point of view of the labor- 
ing class. His whole position in this respect 
was very characteristic of American life; had 
he lived in England and among the social re- 
strictions of that more stereotyped society, he 
would, perhaps, have been simply some Corn- 
Law Rhymer, some Poet of the People. As it 
was, there was nothing to keep him from full 
identification with the most cultivated class, 
and yet he was always able to remain in full 
sympathy with the least cultivated. In this 
respect he was more typically national than most 
of our bards. His liberal attitude was aided 
also by his training in the Society of Friends. 
Of this body Mr. Whittier was always a faithful 
member, though never narrow or technical in 
his spirit. In his youth his anti-slavery associ- 
ations sometimes brought him into danger of 
discipline; and he used to say jokingly in his 
later years that the Society would gladly have 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 63 

then put upon him, would he but consent, all 
the committee work and the little dignities from 
which his position as a reformer had excluded 
him in his youth. He always held to the pre- 
scribed garb so far as the cut of his coat was 
concerned, but conformed to the ways of the 
world in his other attire. He did not use the 
"thee" to members of his own society alone, 
as is the case with some, but presented it in his 
intercourse with the world at large. 

It is difficult to say whether in his life, as in 
Irving's, an early romance led the way to a 
career of celibacy. A few passages in his writ- 
ings, but only a few, might bear this interpre- 
tation, while the view was discouraged by his 
nearest kindred. It is certain that in later life 
he sometimes permitted himself to express re- 
gret that he had never married, since all his 
tastes and habits were eminently domestic. He 
always appeared to advantage in the society of 
women. His manners had all the essentials of 
courtliness in their dignity and consideration 
for others, and while he had little small-talk, he 
had plenty to say about men and affairs ; this 
being always said with sympathy and with 
quaint humor. Utterly free from self-esteem, 
he was always glad to keep the current of con- 
versation away from himself, and might indeed 
be said to rejoice in any evidences of obscurity. 



64 CONTEMPORARIES 

He was a wide reader and had a tenacious 
memory, but he spoke no language except his 
own, nor did he — although he translated one 
or two simple French poems — read much in 
any foreign tongue. He never visited Europe. 
He used to say that in early life he had a great 
yearning for travel, but that after reading a 
book about any foreign place, he retained in 
his mind a picture so vivid that his longing for 
that particular place was satisfied. Yet, as 
Thoreau said that he had traveled a great deal, 
— in Concord, — so Whittier was familiar with 
New England and Pennsylvania, and has done 
far more than any poet — perhaps as much 
as all other poets together — to preserve the 
legends and immortalize the localities of these 
portions of our country. It is only necessary 
to look through the New England volumes of 
Longfellow's " Poems of Places " to be satisfied 
of this. In his treatment of legends, Whittier's 
Quaker truthfulness comes in, and he generally 
produces his poetic effects while keeping close 
to history. But his great skill lay in discovery : 
everything he found was turned to account, 
and he preceded even Hawthorne in demon- 
strating that the early New England life was 
as rich in poetic material as the Scotch. 

Of his poetry it may thus safely be said that 
it has two permanent grounds of fame : he was 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 65 

the Tyrtaeus of the greatest moral agitation of 
the age, and he was the creator of the New 
England legend. He was also the exponent of 
a pure and comprehensive religious feeling ; 
but this he shared with others, while the first 
two branches of laurel were unmistakably his 
own. His drawbacks were almost as plain and 
unequivocal as his merits. Brought up at a 
period when Friends disapproved of music, he 
had no early training in this direction and per- 
haps no natural endowment. He wrote in a 
letter of 1882, — "I don't know anything of 
music, not one tune from another." This at 
once defined the limits of his verse and re- 
stricted him to the very simplest strains. He 
wrote mostly in the four-line ballad metre, 
which he often made not only effective, but 
actually melodious. That he had a certain 
amount of natural ear is shown by his use of 
proper names, in which, after his early period 
of Indian experiments had passed, he rarely 
erred. In one of his very best poems, " My 
Playmate," a large part of the effectiveness 
comes from the name of the locality : — 

" The dark pines sing on Ramoth hill 
The slow song of the sea." 

In "Amy Wentworth," another of his best, he 
gives to one of his verses the unconscious 
flavor of an old ballad by using, as simply as a 



66 CONTEMPORARIES 

nameless Scottish minstrel would have used, 
the names at his own door : — 

" The sweetbriar blooms on Kittery-side 
And green are Elliot's bowers." 

These are the very names of the villages where 
the scene was laid, and even the Kittery-side 
is vernacular. Whittier sometimes prolonged 
his narrative too much, and often obtruded his 
moral a little, but, so far as flavor of the soil 
went, he was far beyond Longfellow or Holmes 
or Lowell. If he lost by want of ear for music, 
the result was chiefly injurious in that it im- 
paired his self-confidence ; and where he had 
trusted his ear to admit a bolder strain, he was 
easily overawed by some prosaic friend with a 
foot-rule, who convinced him that he was tak- 
ing a dangerous liberty. Thus, in "The New 
Wife and the Old," in describing the night 
sounds, he finally closed with — 

u And the great sea waves below, 
Pulse o' the midnight, beating slow." 

This " Pulse o' the midnight " was an unusual 
rhythmic felicity for him, but, on somebody's 
counting the syllables, he tamely submitted, 
substituting 

" Like the night's pulse, beating slow," 

which is spondaic and heavy ; but he after- 
wards restored the better line. In the same 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 67 

way, when he sang of the shoemakers in the 
best of his " Songs of Labor," he originally 
wrote : — 

" Thy songs, Hans Sachs, are living yet 
In strong and hearty German, 
And Canning's craft and Gifford's wit, 
And the rare good sense of Sherman." 

Under similar pressure of criticism he was in- 
duced to substitute 

" And patriot fame of Sherman." 

and this time he did not repent. It is painful 
to think what would have become of the liquid 
measure of Coleridge's " Christabel " had some 
tiresome acquaintance, possibly "a person on 
business from Porlock," insisted on thus putting 
that poem in the stocks. 

Whittier's muse probably gained in all ways 
from the strong tonic of the anti-slavery agita- 
tion. That gave a training in directness, sim- 
plicity, genuineness ; it taught him to shorten 
his sword and to produce strong effects by com- 
mon means. It made him permanently high- 
minded also, and placed him, as he himself 
always said, above the perils and temptations of 
a merely literary career. Though always care- 
ful in his work, and a good critic of the work 
of others, he usually talked by preference upon 
subjects not literary — politics, social science, 
the rights of labor. He would speak at times, 



68 CONTEMPORARIES 

if skillfully led up to it, about his poems, and 
was sometimes, though rarely, known to repeat 
them aloud ; but his own personality was never 
a favorite theme with him, and one could easily 
fancy him as going to sleep, like La Fontaine, 
at the performance of his own opera. 

Few men of limited early training have brought 
from that experience so few literary defects as 
Whittier. He soon outgrew all flavor of pro- 
vincialism, and entered into the world-wide 
atmosphere of literature. The result is that 
when he uses a mispronunciation or makes a 
slip in grammar, it has the effect of an over- 
sight or a whim, not of ignorance. Thus he 
always accents the word " romance " on the 
first syllable, as in 

" Young Romance raised his dreamy eyes ; " 

and in the poem "The Knight of St. John" 
he has this bit of hopelessly bad grammar : — 

" For since the day when "Warkworth wood 
Closed o'er my steed and I." 

Yet these things suggest no flavor of illiteracy. 
A worse fault is that of occasional dilution 
and the reiteration of some very simple moral. 
D'Alembert said of Richardson's novels, once 
so famous, " Nature is a good thing, but do not 
bore us with her (non pas jusqua P ennui)" 
Whittier never reaches the point of ennui, but 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 69 

he sometimes makes us fear that another verse 
will bring us to it ; and yet, when he will, he 
can be thoroughly terse and vigorous. He is 
always simple — always free from that turgid- 
ness and mixture of metaphors which often 
mar the verse of Lowell. On the other hand, 
he does not so often as Lowell broaden into 
the strong assertion of great general maxims. 
Lowell's "Verses Suggested by the Present 
Crisis " followed not long after Whittier's 
"Massachusetts to Virginia," and, being printed 
anonymously, were at first attributed to the 
same author. Whittier's poem had even more 
lyric fire and produced an immediate impres- 
sion even greater, but it touched universal prin- 
ciples less broadly, and is therefore now rarely 
quoted, while Lowell's 

"Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the 
throne " 

is immortal on the lips of successive orators. 

But while this is true, it is also certain that 
there is room, even in the United States, for 
such a function as that of poet of the people ; 
and here Whittier filled a mission apart from 
that of the other members of his particular 
group of New England bards. The difference 
was indeed ante-natal, and affords a most inter- 
esting study. Emerson, Longfellow, Holmes, 
and Lowell belonged more or less completely 



70 CONTEMPORARIES 

to what one of them described well enough 
as " Brahmin blood," representing traditions of 
hereditary cultivation, if not always of station 
or wealth. Their ancestors were to a great ex- 
tent clergymen or lawyers, gens de robe. With 
the questionable exception of Father Bachiler, 
Whittier had a widely different ancestry. But 
here came in a new element of interest : since 
he stood for a race which had a culture of its 
own, namely, that implied in " birthright mem- 
bership " of the Society of Friends. He could 
say for himself in good faith what Lowell said 
with less of strict personal significance : — 

" We draw our lineage from the oppressed." 

Nor was it from the oppressed alone, but he 
derived it from those who had suffered in a 
spirit so lofty and with such elevation of pur- 
pose as to yield through transmitted spiritual 
influence many of the results of the finest train- 
ing. No one appreciated better than he the 
essential dignity of the early New England 
aristocracy — he whose imagination could trace 
back his heroine's lineage through the streets 
of Portsmouth, N. H. : — 

" Her home is brave in Jaffray Street, 
With stately stairways worn 
By feet of old Colonial knights 
And ladies gentle-born. 



JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER 71 

" And on her, from the wainscot old, 
Ancestral faces frown — 
And this had worn the soldier's sword, 
And that the judge's gown." 

But what was all this to him who had learned 
at his mother's knee to go in fancy with Wil- 
liam Penn into the wilderness, or to walk with 
Barclay of Ury through howling mobs ? There 
is no better Brahmin blood than the Quaker 
blood, after all. It was, then, as from kinsman 
to kinsman, that Whittier's last verses were 
addressed to Oliver Wendell Holmes. 



WHITMAN 

Walt, or Walter, Whitman was born at West 
Hills, Long Island, on the 31st of May, 18 19, 
and was educated in the public schools of Brook- 
lyn and New York city. He afterwards learned 
printing, and worked at that trade in summer, 
teaching in winter. Later on he acquired a 
good deal of skill as a carpenter. For brief 
periods of his career he edited newspapers in 
New Orleans and on Long Island, and in 1847- 
48 he made long pedestrian tours through the 
United States, generally following the courses 
of the great Western rivers. He also made pe- 
destrian explorations in Canada. His ' Leaves 
of Grass* was first published in 1855. During 
the Civil War his brother was wounded on the 
battle-field, and he hastened to visit him in camp, 
becoming a volunteer army nurse, in which ca- 
pacity he served for three years in Washington 
and in Virginia. His experiences are recorded 
in " Drum-Taps " and other poems. Want of 
rest and nervous strain brought on a severe 
illness in 1864, from the effects of which he 
never fully recovered. In 1870 he published 



WHITMAN 73 

his " Democratic Vistas." From 1865 to 1874 
he held a government clerkship in Washington. 
In the latter year he was stricken by paralysis 
and retired to Camden, where he was gradually 
recovering when the sudden death of his mother 
in his presence caused a relapse, and he re- 
mained in a somewhat crippled condition, though 
his intellectual powers remained unaffected. In 
his prime Whitman had a magnificent physique, 
and to the last his presence was imposing, his 
white hair giving him a most venerable appear- 
ance in his later years. At times he felt the 
pinch of poverty, but his wants were few and 
simple, and he had friends who were always 
ready to contribute to the relief of his necessi- 
ties. Among his published works may be men- 
tioned " Leaves of Grass," " Passage to India," 
"After All, Not to Create Only," "Two Rivu- 
lets," " Specimen Days and Collect," " Novem- 
ber Boughs," and "Sands at Seventy." 

It was for a long time the curious experience 
of Walt Whitman to find his inspiration almost 
wholly in his own country, and his admirers al- 
most wholly in another. The rhythmic apostle 
of democracy, he had, in the words of one of his 
stanchest admirers, " absolutely no popular fol- 
lowing " at home ; and the gradual increase of 
his circle of special readers, even here, has been 
largely among the class he least approved — 



74 CONTEMPORARIES 

those who desire to be English even in their 
fads. The same thing was true, years ago, of 
" Joaquin " Miller ; but while he has gradually 
faded from view, the robuster personality of 
Whitman has held its own, aided greatly by his 
personal picturesqueness, by recognition of his 
services as an army nurse, and by that rise in 
pecuniary value which awaits all books classed 
by the book venders as "facetiae " or " curiosa." 
All this constituted a combination quite unique. 
To many the mere fact of foreign admiration is 
a sufficient proof of the greatness of an Ameri- 
can ; they have never outgrown that pithy pro- 
verb, the result of the ripe experience of a 
young Philadelphian of twenty -one, that "a 
foreign country is a kind of contemporaneous 
posterity." But when we remember that the 
scene of this particular fame was England, 
and that it was long divided with authors now 
practically forgotten, — with "Artemus Ward" 
and "Josh Billings" and the author of "Sam 
Slick," — when we remember how readily the 
same recognition is still given in England to 
any American who mispells or makes fritters of 
English, or who enters literature, as Lady Mor- 
gan's Irish hero entered a drawing-room, by 
throwing a back somersault in at the door, — the 
judicious American can by no means regard this 
experience as final. It must be remembered, 



WHITMAN 75 

too, that all the malodorous portions of Whit- 
man's earlier poems were avowedly omitted 
from the first English edition of his works ; he 
was expurgated and fumigated in a way that 
might have excited the utmost contempt from 
M. Guy de Maupassant, or indeed from himself ; 
and so the first presentation of this poet to his 
English admirers showed him, as it were, clothed 
and in his right mind. Again, it is to be re- 
membered that much of the vague sentiment 
of democracy in his works, while wholly pictur- 
esque and novel to an Englishman, — provided he 
can tolerate it at all, — is to us comparatively trite 
and almost conventional. It is the rhythmic 
or semi-rhythmic reproduction of a thousand 
Fourth of July orations, and as we grow less and 
less inclined to hear this oft-told tale in plain 
prose, we are least of all tempted to read it in 
what is not even plain verse. There was, there- 
fore, nothing inexplicable in the sort of parallax 
which long exhibited the light of Whitman's 
fame at so different an angle in his own coun- 
try and in England. 

But while an English fame does not of itself 
prove an American to be great, — else were we 
all suing for Buffalo Bill's social favor as if we 
were members of the British aristocracy, — it 
certainly does not prove that he is not great ; 
and it is for us to view Whitman as dispassion- 



76 CONTEMPORARIES 

ately as if he were an author all our own, like 
Whittier or Parkman, of whom an English vis- 
itor will tell you, with labored politeness, that he 
has a vague impression of having heard of him. 
The first distinct canonization ever afforded to 
Whitman on our own shores was when Mr. 
Stedman placed him among the Dii majores of 
our literature by giving him a separate chapter 
in his "Poets of America;" and though it is 
true that this excellent critic had rather cheap- 
ened that honor by extending it to Bayard Tay- 
lor, yet that was easily explainable in part by 
personal friendship ; and it is impossible not to 
see in the Whitman chapter a slightly defensive 
and apologetic tone such as appears nowhere 
else in the book. Mr. Stedman's own sense of 
form is so strong, his instinct of taste so trust- 
worthy, and his love-poetry in particular of so 
high and refined a quality, that he could not 
possibly approach Whitman with the predeter- 
mined sympathy that we might be ready to 
expect from some less cultivated or more impul- 
sive critics. 

There seems to be a provision in nature for a 
class of poets who appear at long intervals, and 
who resolutely confine themselves to a few very 
simple stage properties, and substitute mere 
cadence for form. There was for many years 
an Ossianic period, when simple enthusiasts sat 



WHITMAN 77 

up at night and read until they were sleepy about 
the waving of the long grass on the blasted 
heath, and the passing of the armed warrior 
and the white-bosomed maiden. Ossian is not 
much read now, but Napoleon Bonaparte ad- 
mired him and Goethe studied him. Neither 
is Tupper now much cultivated ; but men not 
very old assure us that his long, rambling lines 
were once copied by the page into extract 
books, and that he was welcomed as relieving 
mankind from the tiresome restraints of verse. 
It would be a great mistake, doubtless, to class 
Whitman with Ossian on the one side, or Tup- 
per on the other ; but it would be a still greater 
error to overlook the fact that the mere revolt 
against the tyranny of form has been made again 
and again, before him, and that without securing 
immortal fame to the author of the experiment. 
It is no uncommon thing, moreover, for the 
fiercest innovating poets to revert to the ranks 
of order before they die. Whitman abstained, 
through all his later publications, from those pro- 
clamations of utter nudity which Emerson, in 
my hearing, called "priapism," and was far more 
compressed and less simply enumerative than 
when he began. True poetry is not merely the 
putting of thoughts into words, but the putting 
of the best thoughts into the best words ; it 
secures for us what Ruskin calls "the perfec- 



78 CONTEMPORARIES 

tion and precision of the instantaneous line." 
It fires a rifle-bullet instead of a shower of bird- 
shot ; it culls the very best phrase out of lan- 
guage, instead of throwing a dozen epithets to 
see if one may chance to stick. For example, 
Emerson centres his "Problem" in "a cowled 
churchman ; " Browning singles out an indi- 
vidual bishop or rabbi, as the case may be ; but 
Whitman enumerates "priests on the earth, 
oracles, sacrificers, brahmins, sabians, llamas, 
monks, muftis, exhorters." In " The Song of the 
Broad- Axe " there are nineteen successive lines 
beginning with the word "Where ; " in " Salut 
au Monde ! " eighteen beginning with " I see." 
In "I sing the body electric," he specifies in 
detail "Wrists and wrist - j oints, hand, palm, 
knuckles, thumb, forefinger, finger-joints, finger- 
nails," with thirteen more lines of just such 
minutiae. In the same poem he explains that 
he wishes his verses to be regarded as " Man's, 
woman's, child's, youth's, wife's, husband's, 
mother's, father's, young man's, young woman's 
poems." This is like bringing home a sackful 
of pebbles from the beach and asking you to 
admire the collected heap as a fine sea view. 
But it is to be noticed that these follies diminish 
in his later works : the lines grow shorter ; and 
though he does not acquiesce in rhyme, he oc- 
casionally accepts a rhythm so well defined that 



WHITMAN 79 

it may be called conventional, as in the fine 
verses entitled " Darest thou now, O Soul ? " 
And it is a fact which absolutely overthrows 
the whole theory of poetic structure or struc- 
turelessness implied in Whitman's volumes, 
that his warmest admirers usually place first 
among his works the poem on Lincoln's death, 
"My Captain," which comes so near to recog- 
nized poetic methods that it actually falls into 
rhyme. 

Whitman can never be classed, as Spinoza 
was by Schleiermacher, among " God-intoxi- 
cated " men ; but he was early inebriated with 
two potent draughts — himself and his coun- 
try: — 

" One's self I sing, a simple separate person, 
Yet utter the word Democratic, the word, En Masse." 

With these words his collected poems open, 
and to these he has always been true. They 
have brought with them a certain access of 
power, and they have also implied weakness ; 
on the personal side leading to pruriency and 
on the national side to rant. For some reason 
or other our sexual nature is so ordained that it 
is very hard for a person to dwell much upon 
it, even for noble and generous purposes, with- 
out developing a tendency to morbidness ; the 
lives of philanthropists and reformers have 
sometimes shown this ; and when one insists on 



80 CONTEMPORARIES 

this part of our nature for purposes of self- 
glorification, the peril is greater. Whitman 
did not escape the danger ; it is something that 
he outgrew it ; and it is possible that if let 
entirely alone, which could hardly be expected, 
he might have dropped " Children of Adam," 
and some of the more nauseous passages in 
other effusions, from his published works. 
One thing which has always accentuated the 
seeming grossness of the sensual side of his 
poems has been the entire absence of that 
personal and ideal side of passion which alone 
can elevate and dignify it. Probably no poet 
of equal pretensions was ever so entirely want- 
ing in the sentiment of individual love for wo- 
man ; not only has he given us no love-poem, 
in the ordinary use of that term, but it is as 
difficult to conceive of his writing one as of his 
chanting a serenade beneath the window of his 
mistress. His love is the blunt, undisguised 
attraction of sex to sex ; and whether this appe- 
tite is directed towards a goddess or a street- 
walker, a Queensberry or a handmaid, is to him 
absolutely unimportant. This not only sepa- 
rates him from the poets of thoroughly ideal 
emotion, like Poe, but from those, like Rossetti, 
whose passion, though it may incarnate itself in 
the body, has its sources in the soul. 



WHITMAN 81 

As time went on, this less pleasing aspect be- 
came softened ; his antagonisms were disarmed 
by applauses ; although this recognition some- 
times took a form so extreme and adulatory 
that it obstructed his path to that simple and 
unconscious life which he always preached but 
could not quite be said to practice. No one 
can be said to lead a noble life who writes puffs 
of himself and offers them to editors, or who 
borrows money of men as poor as himself and 
fails to repay it. Yet his career purified itself, 
as many careers do, in the alembic of years, 
and up to the time of his death (March 26, 
1892) he gained constantly both in friends and 
in readers. Intellectually speaking, all critics 
now admit that he shows in an eminent degree 
that form of the ideal faculty which Emerson 
conceded to Margaret Fuller — he has "lyric 
glimpses." Rarely constructing anything, he 
is yet singularly gifted in phrases, in single 
cadences, in casual wayward strains as from an 
iEolian harp. It frequently happens that the 
titles or catch-words of his poems are better 
than the poems themselves ; as we sometimes 
hear it said in praise of a clergyman that he 
has beautiful texts. " Proud Music of the 
Storm," "When Lilacs Last in the Door-yard 
Bloomed," and others, will readily occur to 
memory. Often, on the other hand, they are 



82 CONTEMPORARIES 

inflated, as " Chanting the Square Deific, " or 
affected and feeble, as " Eidolons." One of 
the most curiously un-American traits in a poet 
professedly so national is his way of interlard- 
ing foreign, and especially French, words to a 
degree that recalls the fashionable novels of 
the last generation, and gives an incongruous 
effect comparable only to Theodore Parker's 
description of an African chief seen by some 
one at Sierra Leone, — " With the exception of 
a dress-coat, his Majesty was as naked as a 
pestle." In the opening lines, already quoted 
from one of his collected volumes (ed. 1881), 
Whitman defines "the word Democratic, the 
word En Masse ; " and everywhere French 
phrases present themselves. The vast sublim- 
ity of night on the prairies only suggests to him 
"how plenteous! how spiritual! how resume'" 
whatever that may mean ; he talks of " Melange 
mine own, the seen and the unseen ; " writes 
poems "with reference to ensemble ; " says " the 
future of the States I harbinge glad and sub- 
lime ; " and elsewhere, " I blow through my 
emboucJmres my loudest and gayest for them." 
He is "the extolled of amies" — meaning ap- 
parently mistresses ; and says that neither 
youth pertains to him. " nor delicatesse!' 
Phrases like these might be multiplied inde- 
finitely, and when he says, "No dainty dolce 



WHITMAN 83 

affettuoso I," he seems vainly to disclaim being 
exactly what he is. He cannot even introduce 
himself to the audience without borrowing a 
foreign word, — " I, Walt Whitman, one of the 
roughs, a kosmos, " — and really stands in this 
respect on a plane not much higher than that 
of those young girls at boarding-school who 
commit French phrases to memory in order to 
use them in conversation and give a fancied 
tone of good society. 

But after all, the offense, which is a trivial 
affectation in a young girl, has a deeper foun- 
dation in a man who begins his literary career 
at thirty-seven. The essential fault of Whit- 
man's poetry was well pointed out by a man of 
more heroic nature and higher genius, Lanier, 
who defined him as a dandy. Of all our poets, 
he is really the least simple, the most mere- 
tricious ; and this is the reason why the honest 
consciousness of the classes which he most 
celebrates, — the drover, the teamster, the 
soldier, — has never been reached by his songs. 
He talks of labor as one who has never really 
labored; his " Drum-Taps " proceed from one 
who has never personally responded to the tap 
of the drum. This is his fatal and insurmount- 
able defect ; and it is because his own country- 
men instinctively recognize this, and foreigners 
do not, that his following has always been larger 



84 CONTEMPORARIES 

abroad than at home. But it is also true that 
he has, in a fragmentary and disappointing way, 
some of the very highest ingredients of a poet's 
nature : a keen eye, a ready sympathy, a strong 
touch, a vivid but not shaping imagination. In 
his cyclopaedia of epithets, in his accumulated 
directory of details, in his sandy wastes of iter- 
ation, there are many scattered particles of 
gold — never sifted out by him, not always 
abundant enough to pay for the sifting, yet un- 
mistakable gold. He has something of the 
turgid wealth, the self-conscious and mouthing 
amplitude of Victor Hugo, and much of his 
broad, vague, indolent desire for the welfare 
of the whole human race ; but he has none of 
Hugo's structural power, his dramatic or melo- 
dramatic instinct, and his occasionally terse 
and brilliant condensation. It is not likely 
that he will ever have that place in the future 
which is claimed for him by his English ad- 
mirers or even by the more cautious indorse- 
ment of Mr. Stedman ; for, setting aside all 
other grounds of criticism, he has phrase, but 
not form — and without form there is no im- 
mortality. 



LANIER 

Emerson said of Shelley — quite unjustly, 
to my thinking — that although uniformly a 
poetic mind, he was never a poet. As to all 
the Southern-born poets of this country ex- 
cept Lanier, even as to Hayne and Pinkney, 
the question still remains whether they got 
actually beyond the poetic mind. In Lanier's 
case alone was the artistic work so continuous 
and systematic, subject to such self-imposed 
laws and tried by so high a standard, as to 
make it safe, in spite of his premature death, 
to place him among those whom we may with- 
out hesitation treat as " master-singers." Even 
among these, of course, there are grades ; but 
as Lowell once said of Thoreau, " To be a mas- 
ter is to be a master." 

With Lanier, music and poetry were in the 
blood. We in America are beginning to study 
" heredity " with renewed interest, not in the 
narrow way in which pedigrees are studied in 
England, but with reference to the inheritance 
of brains and high qualities. It is a satisfac- 
tion to know that Sidney Lanier had an an- 



86 CONTEMPORARIES 

cestor, Jerome, who was probably a musical 
composer at the court of Queen Elizabeth ; 
and that Nicholas, the son of this Jerome, was 
director of music for James I. and Charles L, 
and was a friend of Van Dyck, who painted his 
portrait. Still another Nicholas Lanier was the 
first presiding officer of the Society of Musi- 
cians, incorporated at the restoration of Charles 
II., and four other Laniers were among the 
corporate members of this society. A Sir John 
Lanier fought at the Battle of the Boyne and 
fell at Steinkirk. These facts are brought to- 
gether by the Rev. W. H. Ward, in his life of 
Sidney Lanier ; and he also assures us that the 
progenitor of the American branch of the fam- 
ily, Thomas Lanier, came to this country in 
1716 — not very long since, as American pedi- 
grees go, — and that he settled with other im- 
migrants on a grant ten miles square, including 
the site of the present city of Richmond, Va. 
The father of the poet was Robert S. Lanier, 
a lawyer who was still living in 1884, at Macon, 
Ga. His mother was Mary (Anderson) Lanier, 
a Virginian of Scotch descent. The poet was 
born at Macon February 3, 1842, and died at 
Lynn, N. C, September 7, 1881. 

In addition to the musical tradition, prevail- 
ing in the Lanier family, he is said to have had 
kindred inheritances on the " spindle side." 



LANIER 87 

Music was at any rate his first passion. As a 
boy he taught himself to play the flute, organ, 
piano, violin, guitar, and banjo; the first-named 
instrument being always his favorite, or, per- 
haps, that of his father, who "feared for him 
the powerful fascination of the violin." But 
his parents rather dreaded this absorption in 
music, apparently thinking with Dr. Johnson 
that musicians were "amusing vagabonds." 
The same thought caused a struggle in the 
boy's own mind, for he wrote at eighteen that 
though he was conscious of having "an extraor- 
dinary musical talent," yet music seemed to 
him " so small a business in comparison with 
other things " which he might do that he wished 
to forsake the art. It appears from the same 
note-book that he already felt himself called to 
a literary career. He was at this time a stu- 
dent at Oglethorpe College, a Presbyterian in- 
stitution, now extinct, near Midway, Ga. Here 
he graduated at eighteen, with the first honors 
of his class, although he had lost a year during 
which he was a clerk in the post-office at 
Macon. At Oglethorpe College he came under 
the influence of Professor James Woodrow, to 
whom he always expressed great obligations. 
Lanier became a tutor in the college on gradu- 
ating, but left his post to enlist as a private in 
the Confederate army. 



88 CONTEMPORARIES 

He enlisted in the Macon Volunteers of the 
Second Georgia Battalion, the first military 
force which left Georgia for the seat of war. 
He remained in the service during the whole 
war, and, though three times offered promo- 
tion, would never accept it, from a desire to re- 
main near his younger brother, who was in the 
same regiment. He was in the battle of Seven 
Pines, that of Drewry's Bluffs, and the seven 
days of fighting about Richmond, Va., includ- 
ing Malvern Hill. After this campaign he was 
transferred with his brother to the signal ser- 
vice, because, as envious companions said, he 
could play the flute. In 1863 his detachment 
was mounted ; and later, each of the two bro- 
thers was detailed to take charge of a ves- 
sel which was to run the blockade. Sidney 
was captured and spent five months as a pris- 
oner at Point Lookout, having concealed his 
flute in his sleeve and keeping it always as a 
companion. He describes this period in his 
story, " Tiger Lilies ; " and it was almost at 
the end of the war that he was exchanged. 
This event took place in February, 1865 ; and 
he returned home on foot, having only his flute 
and the twenty-dollar gold piece which had not 
been taken from him when his pockets were 
searched, on his capture. He reached home 
March 15, and was dangerously ill for six 



LANIER 89 

weeks* during which his mother died of the 
pulmonary disease which he had plainly inher- 
ited. 

For nearly eighteen months he filled a clerk- 
ship at Montgomery, Ala., and soon after vis- 
ited New York to publish his novel, " Tiger 
Lilies," which had been written in three weeks 
during April, 1867. It is an extravagant and 
high-flown book, and with something of the 
exuberance of color that its name implies. In 
September of that year he took charge of an 
academy at Prattville, Ala., and was married 
in December to Miss Mary Day of Macon, Ga. 
His disease soon developed ; he gave up his 
school and went to Macon, studying law with 
his father, and even practicing; going to New 
York for treatment, to Texas for health, but 
always with declining strength and increased 
longings for a literary career. 

At last, in December, 1873, he took up his 
abode in Baltimore, having made an engage- 
ment as first flute for the Peabody Symphony 
Concerts. Here he resided for the rest of his 
life, engaged always in a threefold struggle, for 
health, for bread, and for a literary career. To 
his father, who kept open for him a place in 
the law office at Macon, he wrote (November 
29, 1873) that, first, his chance for life was ten 
times greater at Baltimore; that, secondly, he 



90 CONTEMPORARIES 

could not consent to be a third-rate struggling 
lawyer for the rest of his life ; and that in the 
third place, he had been assured by good judges 
that he was "the greatest flute player in the 
world," and had also every encouragement for 
success in literature. As a result he stayed, 
breaking down at short intervals, but playing 
in the orchestra winter after winter, — writing, 
lecturing, teaching. From time to time he 
sought health in Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, 
North Carolina, or Virginia. He studied labo- 
riously, as his books bear witness ; and he cor- 
responded largely with Bayard Taylor, always 
friendly to unappreciated genius. In Taylor's 
" Memoirs " some of these letters are included. 
No passage in them tells so much of Lanier's 
earlier life as this extract, written August y f 

1875: — 

" I could never describe to you what a mere 
drought and famine my life has been, as regards 
that multitude of matters which I fancy one 
absorbs when one is in conversational relation 
with men of letters, with travelers, with per- 
sons who have either seen or written or done 
large things. Perhaps you know that with us 
of the younger generation in the South since 
the war, pretty much the whole of life has been 
merely not dying." (Memorial by W. H. Ward, 
xxiv.) 



LANIER 91 

Thus far I have followed mainly the lines in- 
dicated by Mr. Ward, his biographer. From this 
time forth Lanier's life can be traced from book 
to book. His early novel seems to have fallen 
dead, like the early novels of most people. Be- 
fore this time he had published a few poems in 
Southern newspapers, and then in the " Round 
Table " (New York) ; but the first thing that 
brought public attention to him was a poem on 
" Corn " in "Lippincott's Magazine " for Febru- 
ary, 1875. After this he printed many poems, 
there and elsewhere ; published a volume on 
Florida (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1876) ; and a 
thin volume of collected poems (same publishers, 
1877). There are less than a hundred pages of 
this little venture, and but ten separate poems, 
yet they strike the whole range of his ambition, 
his sensitiveness, his dream of elaborate musi- 
cal construction, — the longest is, indeed, called 
"A Symphony," — and his peculiar effects of 
rhythm. They are daring, impetuous, bristling 
with strophe and antistrophe, with dramatic 
appeal and response, but always single-minded, 
noble, pure. Even where the effect is merely 
startling and scintillating, lighted by Roman 
candles instead of electric lights, there is still a 
signal purity in the illumination, and even if the 
flame goes out, no bad odor is left behind. 

But it was not enough for him to write poetry ; 



92 CONTEMPORARIES 

he must give to the world his methods and his 
principles. He had theories of poetic art, and 
it was these theories, more than any personal 
celebrity, which he desired the world to accept. 
In a fine letter to his wife he writes, " It is 
of little consequence whether / fail ; the / in 
the matter is a small business. ' Que mon nom 
soit fletri, que la France soit libre,' quoth Dan- 
ton." (Ward's Memorial, xxiii.) To keep the 
wolf from the door, he compiled " The Boy's 
Froissart" (1878), "The Boy's King Arthur" 
(1880), "The Boy's Mabinogion" (1881), and 
"The Boy's Percy" (1882), — all published by 
Scribners' Sons in New York, and all excellent 
bits of work, done with enthusiasm. 

He did in these for the mediaeval and later 
legends what Hawthorne and others had done 
for the Greek mythology ; and many a child 
owes to him all that he knows of these delight- 
ful sources of romance. But it was into his 
"Science of English Verse" that he was to 
pour his whole enthusiasm, and it was this, in 
connection with his own poems, that was to 
prove his monument. How large its circulation 
has been, I do not know ; but the condition of 
the copy before me — belonging to Harvard 
College Library — is a sufficient proof that it 
has had and still holds a powerful attraction for 
young students. By the record of dates at the 



LANIER 93 

end of the copy, I find that it was taken out 
once in 1880, five times in 1881, twice in 1882, 
four times in 1883, seven times in 1884, six 
times in 1885, and nineteen times in 1886, be- 
ing afterwards put upon the list of books to be 
kept only a fortnight, and being out, the libra- 
rian tells me, literally all the time. Any author 
might be proud to find his book so appreciated 
by students six years after its first appearance. 
This is no place for analyzing its theory, even 
were my technical knowledge of music sufficient 
to do it justice. To me it seems ingenious, 
suggestive, and overstrained, but it is easy to 
believe that to one who takes it on that middle 
ground where Lanier dwelt, halfway between 
verse and music, it might seem conclusive and 
even become a text-book in art. 

Most of us associate its fundamental proposi- 
tion with the poet Coleridge, who in his " Chris- 
tabel " announced it as a new principle in Eng- 
lish verse that one should count by accents, not 
by syllables. This bold assertion, which at once 
made the transition from the measured strains 
of Dryden and Pope to the free modern rhythm, 
was true in the sense in which Coleridge prob- 
ably meant it ; nor does it seem likely that Cole- 
ridge overlooked what Lanier points out, — that 
all our nursery rhymes and folk songs are writ- 
ten on the same principle. But waiving this 



94 CONTEMPORARIES 

criticism on Coleridge, there is certainly no- 
thing more interesting in Lanier's book than 
when he shows that, just as a Southern negro 
will improvise on the banjo daring variations, 
such as would, if Haydn employed them, be 
called high art, so Shakespeare often employed 
the simplest devices of sound such as are fa- 
miliar in nursery songs, and thus produced 
effects which are lyrically indistinguishable 
from those of Mother Goose. (Science, etc., 
p. 190.) 

But Lanier would have been only hindered, 
rather than helped, by his attempts at a science 
of verse, had he written his own poetry upon a 
theory alone. In that case there might have 
been applied to him Thoreau's incidental epitaph 
on certain writers, " Thus do poets go down 
stream and drift into science and prose." But 
Lanier, too true a poet to do this, saves himself 
on his last page in a brief chapter entitled " On 
the Educated Love of Beauty as the Artist's 
only Law." Here he tersely explains that all 
his previous propositions are hints only, and not 
laws. " For the artist in verse there is no law ; 
the perception and love of beauty constitute the 
whole outfit ; and what is herein set forth is to 
be taken merely as enlarging that perception 
and exalting that love. In all cases the appeal 
is, the ear ; but the ear should for that purpose 



LANIER 95 

be educated up to the highest possible plane of 
culture." 

When we turn from Lanier's theory to his 
practice we find this perpetual appeal to the ear, 
and see that the application of his own theory 
is implicit rather than explicit. But we must 
read his poetry also in the light of his last prose 
book, entitled "The English Novel, and the 
Principle of its Development." This book is 
made up of lectures given before the Johns 
Hopkins University at Baltimore, and was never 
revised by himself ; but the editor, in his prefa- 
tory note, states that this work and its prede- 
cessor formed really but successive "parts of 
a comprehensive philosophy of formal and sub- 
stantial beauty in literature ; " and as the first 
book dealt with the forms of poetic execution, 
so this takes up the substantiate, — the selec- 
tion of themes, treatment of accessories, and 
the like, — and gives us admirable incidental 
criticism of various authors. 

Lanier was a critic of the best kind, for his 
criticism is such as a sculptor receives from a 
brother sculptor, not such as he gets from the 
purchaser on one side or the marble worker on 
the other. It is admirable, for instance, when 
he says of Swinburne, "He invited me to eat ; 
the service was silver and gold, but no food 
therein save pepper and salt ; " or of William 



96 CONTEMPORARIES 

Morris, " He caught a crystal cupful of yellow 
light of sunset, and persuading himself to deem 
it wine, drank it with a sort of smile." But 
the best and fullest of these criticisms are those 
made on Whitman. 

Whitman represented to Lanier a literary 
spirit alien to his own. There could be little 
in common between the fleshliness of " Leaves 
of Grass " and the refined chivalry that could 
write in " The Symphony " lines like these : — 

" Shall ne'er prevail the woman's plea, 
We maids would far, far whiter be> 
If that our eyes might sometimes see 
Men maids in purity ? " 

A man who, with pulmonary disease upon him, 
could still keep in his saddle as a soldier, could 
feel but little sympathy with one who, with 
a superb physique, elected to serve in hospi- 
tal — honorable though that service might be 
for the feeble-bodied. One who viewed poetic 
structure as a matter of art could hardly sym- 
pathize with what he would regard as mere 
recitative ; and one who chose his material 
and treatment with touch and discrimination, 
could make no terms with one who was, as he 
said, "poetry's butcher," and offered as food 
only " huge raw collops cut from the rump of 
poetry, and never mind gristle." (Memoir, 
xxxviii.) But it was Whitman's standard of 



LANIER 97 

what he called " democracy " that troubled La- 
nier most. "As near as I can make it out," 
he writes, " Whitman's argument seems to be 
that, because a prairie is wide, therefore de- 
bauchery is admirable, and because the Missis- 
sippi is long, therefore every American is 
God." Whitman uniformly speaks of modern 
poetry, he says, with the contempt which he 
everywhere affects for the dandy. But what 
age of time ever yielded such a dandy as the 
founder of this school ? (The English Novel, 
pp. 59, 60.) Then he explains himself by show- 
ing the attitudinizing and self-consciousness of 
Whitman's style, " everywhere posing to see 
if it cannot assume a nai've and thinking atti- 
tude, everywhere screwing up its eyes, not into 
an eyeglass, like the conventional dandy, but 
into an expression supposed to be rough and bar- 
baric and frightful to the general reader. . . . 
It is the extreme of sophistication in writing." 
(p. 61.) Elsewhere again he takes up Whit- 
man's rejoicing in America because "here are 
the roughs, beards, . . . combativeness, and 
the like," and shows indignantly how foreign 
this all is to the conception of the founders of 
the nation, — Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, 
and the like. And he declares — this man of 
delicate fibre, who had fought through four 
years of wasting war — that he finds "more 



98 CONTEMPORARIES 

true manf ulness " in the life of many an un- 
selfish invalid woman than in "an aeon of 
muscle-growth and sinew-breeding." He ends 
with this fine aphorism, — "A republic is 
the government of the spirit ; a republic de- 
pends upon the self-control of each member ; 
you cannot make a republic out of muscles and 
prairies and rocky mountains ; republics are 
made of the spirit." (The English Novel, p. 

55-) 

I have followed out this line of thought 
about Whitman, not merely because it seems 
to me fine and true, but because it draws 
Lanier into sharper expression and more char- 
acteristic statement than are to be found any- 
where else in his works. That he could criti- 
cise profoundly one much nearer to himself 
than Whitman is plain when he comes to speak 
of Shelley, of whom he has a sentence that 
seems to me, coming fresh from Dowden's ex- 
haustive memoir of that rare spirit, another 
shot in the bull's-eye of the target. He says : — 

" In truth, Shelley appears always to have 
labored under an essential immaturity ; it is 
very possible that if he had lived a hundred 
years he would never have become a man ; he 
was penetrated with modern ideas, but pene- 
trated as a boy would be, crudely, overmuch, 
and with a constant tendency to the extrava- 



LANIER 99 

gant and illogical, — so that I call him the 
Modern Boy." (The English Novel, p. 99.) 
Again, much of the book is given to a discus- 
sion of George Eliot, in whom he finds the 
best type of the recent novelist. He stops 
short of the later realism which proclaims its 
own merits with such honest frankness ; and 
his real plan is to trace " the growth of human 
personality " from ^Eschylus through Plato and 
Aristotle, then down through the Renaissance, 
Shakespeare, Richardson, and Fielding, to Dick- 
ens and George Eliot. There he stops, but 
the book is full of suggestion, freshness, life, 
and manliness. 

It remains to be said that in Lanier's poetry 
we find the working out of these ideas, but in 
the free faith which he held. There is uni- 
formly a wonderful beat and cadence to them, 
— a line of a dozen syllables mating with a line 
of a single syllable in as satisfactory a move- 
ment as can be found in his favorite Mother 
Goose or in the " patting Juba " of a planta- 
tion singer. The volume of his poetry is less 
than that of Hayne, but its wealth and depth 
is greater. Having spent so much of his life 
in playing the flute in an orchestra, he has also 
an ear for the distribution of instruments, and 
this gives him a desire for the antiphonal, for 
introducing an answer or echo or compensating 



ioo CONTEMPORARIES 

note. In the poem that most arrested atten- 
tion, — the " Cantata " at the opening of the 
Philadelphia Exposition, — this characteristic 
was so developed as to give an effect of exag- 
geration and almost of grotesqueness, which 
was, however, so relieved by the music that the 
impression soon passed away. But in his de- 
scription of sunrise in the first of his hymns 
of the marshes he puts not merely such a 
wealth of outdoor observation as makes even 
Thoreau seem thin and arid, but combines with 
it a roll and range of rhythm such as Lowell's 
"Commemoration Ode" cannot equal, and only 
some of Browning's early ocean cadences can 
surpass. There are inequalities in the poem, 
little spasmodic phrases here and there, or 
fancies pressed too hard, — he wrote it, poor 
fellow, when far gone in his last illness, with 
his pulse at one hundred and four degrees, and 
when unable to raise his food to his mouth, — 
but the same is true of Keats's great frag- 
ments, and there are lines and phrases of La- 
nier's that are not excelled in "Endymion," 
and perhaps not in " Hyperion." 

It was a piece of good fortune for his fame — 
or rather, perhaps, a service won by his own high 
merits — that Lanier secured a biographer and 
editor so admirably equipped as Mr. W. H.Ward. 
All that Lanier did, afforded merely a glimpse 



LANIER 101 

of what he might have done, had health and 
time been given him, but these were not given, 
and his literary monument remains unfinished. 
He died of consumption at Baltimore, at the 
age of thirty-nine, September 7, 1881, leaving 
a wife and four boys. His work will long live 
as that of the Sir Galahad among our Ameri- 
can poets. 



AN EVENING WITH MRS. HAW- 
THORNE 

The news of Mrs. Hawthorne's death re- 
minded me of a happy evening spent beneath 
the roof of that most gracious and lovable 
woman, at a time when for me to visit Haw- 
thorne's house was to make a pilgrimage to a 
shrine. I will not dwell on the more private 
and personal interests of the occasion, but I re- 
member that in approaching the house I thought 
of Keats' s fine description of his visit to the 
home of Burns, when he "felt as if he were 
going to a tournament." 

Beginning with some such emotion, I felt 
very rich that evening when Mrs. Hawthorne 
put into my hand several volumes of those 
diaries which carry us so near the heart of this 
great writer. As I reverently opened one, it 
seemed a singular Sortes Virgiliance that my 
eye should first fall upon this passage , " I am 
more an Abolitionist in feeling than in princi- 
ple." It was in a description of some festival 
day in Maine, when Hawthorne's keen eye had 
noted the neat looks and courteous demeanor 



AN EVENING WITH MRS. HAWTHORNE 103 

of a party of colored people. It removed at 
once the slight barrier by which the suspicious 
conscience of a reformer had seemed to sepa- 
rate me from him. I had seen him but twice, 
— remotely, as a boy looks at a celebrated 
man, — but it had always been painful to me 
that he, alone among the prominent literary 
men of New England, should be persistently 
arrayed on what seemed to me the wrong side. 
From that moment I convinced myself that 
his heart was really on our side, and that only 
the influence of his early friend Pierce had led 
him to different political conclusions. 

Then, I remember, Mrs. Hawthorne asked 
her younger daughter to sing to us ; and she 
sang dreamy and thoughtful songs, such as 
" Consider the Lilies," and Tennyson's " Break, 
break, break," and "Too Late." "It is not 
singing, it is eloquence," said afterwards the 
proud and loving mother, from whose own 
thrilling and sympathetic voice the eloquence 
seemed well inherited. Mrs. Hawthorne had 
always seemed to dwell in an ideal world, 
through her own poetic nature as well as 
through her husband's. I watched her as she 
sat on her low chair by the fire, while the 
music lasted ; her hair was white, her cheeks 
pallid, and her eyes full of tender and tremu- 
lous light. To have been the object of Haw- 



104 CONTEMPORARIES 

thorne's love imparted an immortal charm and 
sacredness to a life that, even without that 
added association, would have had an undying 
grace of its own. She having thus lived and 
loved, gelebt und geliebet, it seemed as if her 
existence never could become more spiritual or 
unworldly than it already was. 

After her children had left us for the night, 
we sat and talked together ; or rather I ques- 
tioned and she answered, telling me of her 
husband's home life and also of his intercourse 
with strangers ; saying, what touched but did 
not surprise me, that men who had committed 
great crimes or whose memories held tragic 
secrets would sometimes write to him, or would 
even come great distances to see him, and unbur- 
den their souls. This was after the publication 
of the " Scarlet Letter," which made them re- 
gard him as the father-confessor for all hidden 
sins. And that which impressed me most, after 
all, was her description of the first reading of 
that masterpiece. For this I have not to rely 
on memory alone, because I wrote it down, just 
afterwards, in my chamber, — a room beneath 
Hawthorne's study, in the tower which he had 
added to the house. 

She said that it was not her husband's 
custom to sit with her while he wrote, or to 
tell her about any literary work till it was 



AN EVENING WITH MRS. HAWTHORNE 105 

finished, but that then he was always impatient 
to read it to her. In writing the " Wonder- 
Book," to be sure, he liked to read his day's 
work to the children in the evening, by way 
of test. She added that while thus occupied 
with that particular book, he was in high spirits ; 
and this, as I knew, meant a good deal, for his 
daughter had once told me that he was capable 
of being the very gayest person she ever saw, 
and that " there never was such a playmate in 
all the world." 

But during the whole winter when the " Scar- 
let Letter " was being written he seemed de- 
pressed and anxious. " There was a knot in 
his forehead all the time," Mrs. Hawthorne 
said, but she thought it was from some pecun- 
iary anxiety, such as sometimes affected that 
small household. One evening he came to her 
and said that he had written something which 
he wished to read aloud ; it was worth very 
little, but as it was finished, he might as well read 
it. He read aloud all that evening ; but as the 
romance was left unfinished when they went to 
bed, not a word was said about it on either side. 
He always disliked, she said, to have anything 
criticised until the whole had been heard. He 
read a second evening, and the concentrated 
excitement had grown so great that she could 
scarcely bear it. At last it grew unendurable ; 



106 CONTEMPORARIES 

and in the midst of the scene, near the end 
of the book, where Arthur Dimmesdale meets 
Hester and her child in the forest, Mrs. Haw- 
thorne sank from her low stool upon the floor, 
pressed her hands upon her ears, and said that 
she could hear no more. 

Hawthorne put down the manuscript and 
looked at her in perfect amazement. " Do you 
really feel it so much ? " he said. "Then there 
must be something in it." He prevailed on 
her to rise and to hear the few remaining 
chapters of the romance. 

To those who knew Mrs. Hawthorne's im- 
pressible nature, this reminiscence of hers will 
have no tinge of exaggeration, but will appear 
very characteristic, — she had borne to the 
utmost the strain upon her emotions, before 
yielding. The next day, she said, the manu- 
script was delivered to Mr. Fields ; on the fol- 
lowing morning he appeared early at the door, 
and when admitted, caught up her boy in his 
arms, saying, " You splendid little fellow, do 
you know what a father you have ? " Then he 
ran upstairs to Hawthorne's study, telling her, 
as he went, that he (and I think Mr. Whipple) 
had sat up all night to read it, and had come 
to Salem as early as possible in the morning. 
She did not go upstairs, but soon her husband 
came down, with fire in his eyes, and walked 
about the room, a different man. 



AN EVENING WITH MRS. HAWTHORNE 107 

I have hesitated whether to print this brief 
narrative ; and yet everything which illustrates 
the creation of a great literary work belongs to 
the world. How it would delight us all, if the 
Shakespeare societies were to bring to light a 
description like this of the very first reading 
of " Macbeth " or of " Hamlet " ! To me it is 
somewhat the same thing to have got so near 
to the birth-hour of the " Scarlet Letter. " So 
I felt, at least, that evening ; and she who had 
first heard those wondrous pages was there 
before me, still sitting on the same low chair 
whence she had slipped to the floor, with her 
hands over her ears, just as the magician had 
wrought his spell to its climax. Now his voice 
and hers, each so tender and deep and with the 
modulation of some rare instrument, have alike 
grown silent, only to blend elsewhere, let us 
hope, in some loftier symphony. 

" Now long that instrument has ceased to sound, 
Now long that gracious form in earth hath lain, 
Tended by nature only, and unwound 
Are all those mingled threads of love and pain ; 
So let us weep, and bend 
Our heads, and wait the end, 
Knowing that God creates not thus in vain." 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 

To those of us who were by twenty years or 
more the juniors of Mrs. Child, she always pre- 
sented herself rather as an object of love than of 
cool criticism, even if we had rarely met her face 
to face. In our earliest recollections she came 
before us less as author or philanthropist than 
as some kindly and omnipresent aunt, beloved 
forever by the heart of childhood, — some one 
gifted with all lore, and furnished with un- 
fathomable resources, — some one discoursing 
equal delight to all members of the household. 
In those days she seemed to supply a sufficient 
literature for any family through her own 
unaided pen. Thence came novels for the 
parlor, cookery books for the kitchen, and the 
"Juvenile Miscellany" for the nursery. In 
later years the intellectual provision still con- 
tinued. We learned, from her anti-slavery 
writings, where to find our duties ; from her 
" Letters from New York, " where to seek our 
highest pleasures ; while her " Progress of Re- 
ligious Ideas " introduced us to those profounder 
truths on which pleasures and duties alike rest. 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 109 

It is needless to debate whether she did the 
greatest or most permanent work in any especial 
department of literature, since she did pioneer 
work in so many. She showed memorable in- 
dependence in repeatedly leaving beaten paths 
to strike out for herself new literary directions, 
and combined the authorship of more than 
thirty books and pamphlets with a singular de- 
votion both to public and private philanthropies, 
and with almost too exacting a faithfulness to 
the humblest domestic duties. 

Lydia Maria Francis was born at Medford, 
Mass., February 11, 1802. Her ancestor, 
Richard Francis, came from England in 1636, 
and settled in Cambridge, where his tombstone 
may still be seen in the burial-ground. Her 
paternal grandfather, a weaver by trade, was in 
the Concord fight, and is said to have killed 
five of the enemy. Her father, Convers Fran- 
cis, was a baker, first in West Cambridge, then 
in Medford, where he first introduced the article 
of food still known as " Medford crackers." He 
was a man of strong character and great indus- 
try. Though without much cultivation, he had 
uncommon love of reading ; and his anti-slavery 
convictions were peculiarly zealous, and must 
have influenced his children's later career. He 
married Susannah Rand, of whom it is only 
recorded that " she had a simple, loving heart, 
and a spirit busy in doing good." 



no CONTEMPORARIES 

They had six children, of whom Lydia Maria 
was the youngest, and Convers the next in age. 
Convers Francis was afterwards eminent among 
the most advanced thinkers and scholars of the 
Unitarian body, at a time when it probably sur- 
passed all other American denominations in the 
intellectual culture of its clergy. He had less 
ideality than his sister, less enthusiasm, and far 
less moral courage; yet he surpassed most of 
his profession in all these traits. He was 
Theodore Parker's first scholarly friend, and 
directed his studies in preparation for the 
theological school. Long after, Mr. Parker 
used still to head certain pages of his journal, 
" Questions to ask Dr. Francis. " The modest 
"study" at Watertown was a favorite head- 
quarters of what were called "the transcen- 
dentalists " of those days. Emerson, Margaret 
Fuller, Ripley, and the rest came often thither, 
in the days when the "Dial" was just eman- 
cipating American thought from old-world tra- 
ditions. Afterwards, when Dr. Francis was 
appointed to the rather responsible and con- 
servative post of professor in the Harvard The- 
ological School, he still remained faithful to 
the spirit of earlier days, never repressing free 
inquiry, but always rejoicing to encourage it. 
He was a man of rare attainments in a vari- 
ety of directions ; and though his great read- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD in 

ing gave a desultory habit to his mind, and his 
thinking was not quite in proportion to his 
receptive power, he still was a most valuable 
instructor, as he was a most delightful friend. 
In face and figure he resembled the pictures of 
Martin Luther, and his habits and ways always 
seemed like those of some genial German pro- 
fessor. With the utmost frugality in other re- 
spects, he spent money profusely on books, and 
his library — part of which he bequeathed to 
Harvard College — was to me the most attractive 
I had ever seen ; more so than even Theodore 
Parker's. 

His sister had, undoubtedly, the superior 
mind of the two ; but he who influenced others 
so much must have influenced her still more. 
" A dear good sister has she been to me ; 
would that I had been half as good a bro- 
ther to her." This he wrote, in self-depre- 
ciation, long after. While he was fitting for 
college, a process which took but one year, 
she was his favorite companion, though more 
than six years younger. They read together, 
and she was constantly bringing him Milton 
and Shakespeare to explain. He sometimes 
mystified her, — as brothers will, in dealing 
with maidens nine years old, — and once told 
her that "the raven down of darkness," which 
was made to smile, was but the fur of a black 



112 CONTEMPORARIES 

cat that sparkled when stroked ; though it still 
perplexed her small brain why fur should be 
called down. 

Their earliest teacher was a maiden lady, 
named Elizabeth Francis, — but not a relative, 
— and known universally as "Ma'am Betty." 
She is described as "a spinster of supernatural 
shyness, the never-forgotten calamity of whose 
life was that Dr. Brooks once saw her drinking 
water from the nose of her tea-kettle." She 
kept school in her bedroom, — it was never 
tidy, and she chewed a great deal of tobacco ; 
but the children were fond of her, and always 
carried her a Sunday dinner. Such simple 
kindnesses went forth often from that thrifty 
home. Mrs. Child once told me that always 
on the night before Thanksgiving, all the hum- 
ble friends of the household — " Ma'am Betty," 
the washerwoman, the berry-woman, the wood- 
sawyer, the journeymen-bakers, and so on — 
some twenty or thirty in all, were summoned to a 
preliminary entertainment. They here partook 
of an immense chicken-pie, pumpkin-pies (made 
in milk-pans), and heaps of doughnuts. They 
feasted in the large old-fashioned kitchen, and 
went away loaded with crackers and bread by 
the father, and with pies by the mother, not 
forgetting "turnovers" for their children. 
Such homely applications of the doctrine " It is 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 113 

more blessed to give than to receive " may have 
done more to mould the Lydia Maria Child of 
maturer years than all the faithful labors of 
good Dr. Osgood, to whom she and her brother 
used to repeat the Westminster Assembly's 
Catechism once a month. 

Apart from her brother's companionship, the 
young girl had, as was then usual, a very subordi- 
nate share of educational opportunities ; attend- 
ing only the public schools, with one year at the 
private seminary of Miss Swan, in Medford. 
Her mother died in 18 14, after which the fam- 
ily removed for a time to Maine. In 18 19 Con- 
vers Francis was ordained over the First Parish 
in Watertown, and there occurred in his study, 
in 1824, an incident which was to determine the 
whole life of his sister. 

Dr. J. G. Palfrey had written in the " North 
American Review" for April, 1821, a review 
of the now forgotten poem of " Yamoyden," in 
which he had ably pointed out the use that might 
be made of early American history for the pur- 
poses of fictitious writing. Miss Francis read 
this article, at her brother's house, one summer 
Sunday noon. Before attending the afternoon 
service, she wrote the first chapter of a novel. 
It was soon finished, and was published that 
year, — a thin volume of two hundred pages, 
without her name, under the title of " Hobo- 



114 CONTEMPORARIES 

mok: a Tale of Early Times. By an Ameri- 
can." 

In judging of this little book, it is to be re- 
membered that it marked the very dawn of 
American imaginative literature. Irving had 
printed only his " Sketch Book ; " Cooper only 
"Precaution." This new production was the 
hasty work of a young woman of nineteen — 
an Indian tale by one who had scarcely even 
seen an Indian. Accordingly, " Hobomok " 
now seems very crude in execution, very 
improbable in plot ; and is redeemed only 
by a certain earnestness which carries the 
reader along, and by a sincere attempt after 
local coloring. It is an Indian " Enoch Arden," 
with important modifications, which unfortu- 
nately all tend away from probability. Instead 
of the original lover who heroically yields his 
place, it is to him that the place is given up. 
The hero of this self-sacrifice is an Indian, a 
man of high and noble character, whose wife 
the heroine had consented to become, at a time 
when she had been almost stunned with the 
false tidings of her lover's death. The least 
artistic things in the book are these sudden 
nuptials, and the equally sudden resolution of 
Hobomok to abandon his wife and child on the 
reappearance of the original betrothed. As 
the first work whose scene was laid in Puritan 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 115 

days, " Hobomok " will always have a historic 
interest, but it must be read in very early 
youth to give it any other attraction. 

The success of this first effort was at any 
rate such as to encourage the publication of a 
second tale in the following year. This was 
" The Rebels ; or, Boston before the Revolution. 
By the author of * Hobomok.' ' It was a great 
advance on its predecessor, with more vigor, 
more variety, more picturesque grouping, and 
more animation of style. The historical point 
was well chosen, and the series of public and 
private events well combined, with something 
of that tendency to the over-tragic which is 
common with young authors, — it is so much 
easier to kill off superfluous characters than to 
do anything else with them. It compared not 
unfavorably with Cooper's revolutionary novels, 
and had in one respect a remarkable success. 
It contained an imaginary sermon by White- 
field and an imaginary speech by James Otis. 
Both of these were soon transplanted into 
" School Readers " and books of declamation, 
and the latter, at least, soon passed for a piece 
of genuine revolutionary eloquence. I remem- 
ber learning it by heart, under that impression; 
and was really astonished, on recently reading 
" The Rebels " for the first time, to discover 
that the high-sounding periods which I had 



n6 CONTEMPORARIES 

always attributed to Otis were really to be 
found in a young lady's romance. 

This book has a motto from Bryant, and is 
"most respectfully inscribed " to George Tick- 
nor. The closing paragraph states with some 
terseness the author's modest anxieties : — 

" Many will complain that I have dwelt too 
much on political scenes, familiar to every one 
who reads our history ; and others, on the con- 
trary, will say that the character of the book is 
quite too tranquil for its title. I might men- 
tion many doubts and fears still more impor- 
tant ; but I prefer silently to trust this humble 
volume to that futurity which no one can fore- 
see and every one can read." 

The fears must soon have seemed useless, 
for the young novelist early became almost a 
fashionable lion. She was an American Fanny 
Burney, with rather reduced copies of Burke 
and Johnson around her. Her personal quali- 
ties soon cemented some friendships, which 
lasted her life long, except where her later 
anti-slavery action interfered. She opened a 
private school in Watertown, which lasted from 
1825 to 1828. She established, in 1827, the 
" Juvenile 'Miscellany," that delightful pioneer 
among children's magazines in America ; and 
it was continued for eight years. In October, 
1828, she was married to David Lee Child, a 
lawyer of Boston. 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 117 

In those days it seemed to be held necessary 
for American women to work their passage into 
literature by first compiling some kind of cook- 
ery book. They must be perfect in that pre- 
liminary requisite before they could proceed to 
advanced standing. It was not quite as in Mar- 
veil's satire on Holland, " Invent a shovel and 
be a magistrate," but, as Charlotte Hawes has 
since written, " First this steak and then that 
stake." So Mrs. Child published in 1829 her 
" Frugal Housewife," a book which proved so 
popular that in 1836 it had reached its twen- 
tieth edition, and in 1855 its thirty-third. 

The " Frugal Housewife " now lies before 
me, after a great many years of abstinence from 
its appetizing pages. The words seem as famil- 
iar as when we children used to study them 
beside the kitchen fire, poring over them as if 
their very descriptions had power to allay an 
unquenched appetite or prolong the delights 
of one satiated. There were the animals in 
the frontispiece, sternly divided by a dissecting 
knife of printer's ink, into sections whose culi- 
nary names seemed as complicated as those of 
surgical science, — chump and spring, sirloin 
and sperib, — for I faithfully follow the original 
spelling. There we read with profound acqui- 
escence that " hard gingerbread is good to have 
in the family," but demurred at the reason 



n8 CONTEMPORARIES 

given, "it keeps so well." It never kept well 
in ours ! There we all learned that one should 
be governed in housekeeping by higher consid- 
erations than mere worldly vanity, knowing 
that " many people buy the upper part of the 
sparerib of pork, thinking it the most genteel ; 
but the lower part is more sweet and juicy, and 
there is more meat in proportion to the bone." 

Going beyond mere carnal desires, we read 
also the wholesome directions " to those who 
are not ashamed of economy." We were in- 
formed that " children could early learn to take 
care of their own clothes," — a responsibility at 
which we shuddered ; and also that it was a 
good thing for children to gather blackberries, 
— in which we heartily concurred. There, too, 
we were taught to pick up twine and paper, to 
write on the backs of old letters, like paper- 
sparing Pope, and if we had a dollar a day, 
which seemed a wild supposition, to live on 
seventy-five cents. We all read, too, with in- 
terest, the hints on the polishing of furniture 
and the education of daughters, and we got 
our first glimpses of political economy from the 
" Reasons for Hard Times." So varied and 
comprehensive was the good sense of the book 
that it surely would have seemed to our child- 
ish minds infallible, but for one fatal admission, 
which through life I have recalled with dismay, 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 119 

— the assertion, namely, that "economical peo- 
ple will seldom use preserves." "They are un- 
healthy, expensive, and useless to those who 
are well." This was a sumptuary law, against 
which the soul of youth revolted. 

The wise counsels thus conveyed in this 
more-than-cookery book may naturally have led 
the way to a " Mother's Book," of more direct 
exhortation. This was published in 1831, and 
had a great success, reaching its eighth Ameri- 
can edition in 1845, besides twelve English edi- 
tions and a German translation. Doubtless it is 
now out of print, but one may still find at the 
antiquarian bookstores the " Girl's Own Book," 
by Mrs. Child, published during the same year. 
This is a capital manual of indoor games, and 
is worth owning by any one who has a house- 
ful of children, or is liable to serve as the Lord 
of Misrule at Christmas parties. It is illus- 
trated with vignettes by that wayward child of 
genius, Francis Graeter, a German, whom Mrs. 
Child afterwards described in the " Letters from 
New York." He was a personal friend of hers, 
and his pencil is also traceable in some of her 
later books. Indeed, the drollest games which 
he has delineated in the " Girl's Own Book " 
are not so amusing as the unintentional comedy 
of his attempts at a " Ladies' Sewing Circle," 
which illustrates American life in the " History 



120 CONTEMPORARIES 

of Woman." The fair laborers sit about a 
small round table, with a smirk of mistimed 
levity on their faces, and one feels an irresisti- 
ble impulse to insert in their very curly hair 
the twisted papers employed in the game of 
" Genteel lady, always genteel," in the " Girl's 
Own Book." 

The " History of Woman" appeared in 1832, 
as one of a series projected by Carter & Hen- 
dee, of which Mrs. Child was to be the editor, 
but which was interrupted at the fifth volume 
by the failure of the publishers. She compiled 
for this the " Biographies of Good Wives," the 
" Memoirs " of Madame De Stael and Madame 
Roland, those of Lady Russell and Madame 
Guion, and the two volumes of "Woman." All 
these aimed at a popular, not a profound, treat- 
ment. She was, perhaps, too good a compiler, 
showing in such work the traits of her bro- 
ther's mind, and carefully excluding all those 
airy flights and bold speculations which after- 
wards seemed her favorite element. The "His- 
tory of Woman," for instance, was a mere 
assemblage of facts, beginning and ending ab- 
ruptly, and with no glimpse of any leading 
thought or general philosophy. It was, how- 
ever, the first American storehouse of informa- 
tion upon that whole question, and no doubt 
helped the agitation along. Its author evi- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 121 

dently looked with distrust, however, on that 
rising movement for the equality of the sexes, 
of which Frances Wright was then the rather 
formidable leader. 

The " Biographies of Good Wives " reached 
a fifth edition in the course of time, as did the 
" History of Woman." I have a vague child- 
ish recollection of her next book, " The Coro- 
nal," published in 1833, which was of rather a 
fugitive description. The same year brought 
her to one of those bold steps which made suc- 
cessive eras in her literary life, — the publica- 
tion of her " Appeal for that Class of Ameri- 
cans called Africans." 

The name was rather cumbrous, like all at- 
tempts to include an epigram in the title-page, 
but the theme and the word " Appeal " were 
enough. It was under the form of an " Ap- 
peal " that the colored man, Alexander Walker, 
had thrown a firebrand into Southern society 
which had been followed by Nat Turner's insur- 
rection ; and now a literary lady, amid the culti- 
vated circles of Boston, dared also to " appeal." 
Only two years before (183 1), Garrison had be- 
gun the " Liberator," and only two years later 
(1835), he was dragged through Boston streets, 
with a rope around his body, by " gentlemen of 
property and standing," as the newspapers said 
next day. It was just at the very most dan- 



122 CONTEMPORARIES 

gerous moment of the rising storm that Mrs. 
Child appealed. 

Miss Martineau in her article, "The Martyr 
Age in America," — published in the "London 
and Westminster Review" in 1839, an ^ at once 
reprinted in America, — gives by far the most 
graphic picture yet drawn of that perilous time. 
She describes Mrs. Child as " a lady of whom 
society was exceedingly proud before she pub- 
lished her Appeal, and to whom society has 
been extremely contemptuous ever since." She 
adds : "Her works were bought with avidity 
before, but fell into sudden oblivion as soon as 
she had done a greater deed than writing any 
of them." 

It is evident that this result was not unex- 
pected, for the preface to the book explicitly 
recognizes the probable dissatisfaction of the 
public. She says : — 

" I am fully aware of the unpopularity of the 
task I have undertaken ; but though I expect 
ridicule and censure, I cannot fear them. A 
few years hence, the opinion of the world will 
be a matter in which I have not even the most 
transient interest ; but this book will be abroad 
on its mission of humanity long after the hand 
that wrote it is mingling with the dust. Should 
it be the means of advancing, even one single 
hour, the inevitable progress of truth and jus- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 123 

tice, I would not exchange the consciousness 
for all Rothschild's wealth or Sir Walter's 
fame." 

These words have in them a genuine ring ; 
and the book is really worthy of them. In 
looking over its pages, after the lapse of many 
years, it seems incredible that it should have 
drawn upon her such hostility. The tone is 
calm and strong, the treatment systematic, the 
points well put, the statements well guarded. 
The successive chapters treat of the history 
of slavery, its comparative aspect in different 
ages and nations, its influence on politics, the 
profitableness of emancipation, the evils of the 
colonization scheme, the intellect of negroes, 
their morals, the feeling against them, and the 
duties of the community in their behalf. As 
it was the first anti-slavery work ever printed 
in America in book form, so I have always 
thought it the ablest ; that is, it covered the 
whole ground better than any other. I know 
that, on reading it for the first time, nearly ten 
years after its first appearance, it had more 
formative influence on my mind in that direc- 
tion than any other, although of course the elo- 
quence of public meetings was a more exciting 
stimulus. It never surprised me to hear that 
even Dr. Channing attributed a part of his own 
anti-slavery awakening to this admirable book. 



124 CONTEMPORARIES 

He took pains to seek out its author immedi- 
ately on its appearance, and there is in her bio- 
graphy an interesting account of their meeting. 
His own work on slavery did not appear until 

1835. 

Undaunted and perhaps stimulated by oppo- 
sition, Mrs. Child followed up her self-appointed 
task. During the next year she published the 
" Oasis," a sort of anti-slavery annual, the pre- 
cursor of Mrs. Chapman's " Liberty Bell," of 
later years. She also published, about this 
time, an " Anti-Slavery Catechism " and a small 
book called " Authentic Anecdotes of Ameri- 
can Slavery." These I have never seen, but 
find them advertised on the cover of a third 
pamphlet, which, with them, went to a second 
edition in 1839. "The Evils of Slavery and 
the Cure of Slavery ; the first proved by the 
opinions of Southerners themselves, the last 
shown by historical evidence." This is a com- 
pact and sensible little work. 

While thus seemingly absorbed in reforma- 
tory work, she still kept an outlet in the direc- 
tion of pure literature, and was employed for 
several years on " Philothea," which appeared 
in 1836. The scene of this novel was laid in 
ancient Greece. I well remember the admira- 
tion with which this romance was hailed ; and 
for me personally it was one of those delights 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 125 

of boyhood which the criticism of maturity can- 
not disturb. What mattered it if she brought 
Anaxagoras and Plato on the stage together, 
whereas in truth the one died about the year 
when the other was born ? What mattered it 
if in her book the classic themes were treated 
in a romantic spirit ? That is the fate of almost 
all such attempts, — compare, for instance, the 
choruses of Swinburne's " Atalanta," which 
might have been written on the banks of the 
Rhine, and very likely were. But childhood 
never wishes to discriminate, only to combine ; 
a period of life which likes to sugar its bread 
and butter prefers also to have its classic and 
romantic in one. 

"Philothea" was Mrs. Child's first attempt 
to return, with her anti-slavery cross still upon 
her, into the ranks of literature. Mrs. S. J. 
Hale, who, in her " Woman's Record," re- 
proves her sister writer for " wasting her soul's 
wealth " in radicalism, and " doing incalculable 
injury to humanity," seems to take a stern sat- 
isfaction in the fact that "the bitter feelings 
engendered by the strife have prevented the 
merits of this remarkable book from being ap- 
preciated as they deserve." This was perhaps 
true ; nevertheless it went through three edi- 
tions, and Mrs. Child, still keeping up the full 
circle of her labors, printed nothing but a rather 



126 CONTEMPORARIES 

short-lived " Family Nurse " (in 1837) before 
entering the anti-slavery arena again. 

In 1 84 1 Mr. and Mrs. Child were engaged by 
the American Anti-Slavery Society to edit the 
" Anti-Slavery Standard," a weekly newspaper 
published in New York. Mr. Child's health 
being impaired, his wife undertook the task 
alone, and conducted the newspaper in that 
manner for two years, after which she aided 
her husband in the work, remaining there for 
eight years in all. She was very successful as 
an editor, her management being brave and effi- 
cient, while her cultivated taste made the 
" Standard " attractive to many who were not 
attracted by the plainer fare of the " Libera- 
tor." The good judgment shown in her 
poetical and literary selections was always ac- 
knowledged with especial gratitude by those 
who read the " Standard " at that time. 

During all this period she was a member of 
the family of the well-known Quaker philan- 
thropist, Isaac T. Hopper, whose biographer 
she afterwards became. This must have been 
the most important and satisfactory time in 
Mrs. Child's whole life. She was placed where 
her sympathetic nature found abundant outlet 
and plenty of cooperation. Dwelling in a home 
where disinterestedness and noble labor were 
as daily breath, she had great opportunities. 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 127 

There was no mere almsgiving there, no mere 
secretaryship of benevolent societies ; but sin 
and sorrow must be brought home to the fire- 
side and to the heart ; the fugitive slave, the 
drunkard, the outcast woman, must be the 
chosen guest of the abode, — must be taken 
and held and loved into reformation or hope. 
Since the stern tragedy of city life began, it has 
seen no more efficient organization for relief 
than when Isaac Hopper and Mrs. Child took 
up their abode beneath one roof in New York. 
For a time she did no regular work in the 
cause of permanent literature, — though she 
edited an anti-slavery almanac in 1843, — but 
she found an opening for her best eloquence in 
writing letters to the " Boston Courier," then 
under the charge of Joseph T. Buckingham. 
This was the series of " Letters from New 
York " that afterwards became famous. They 
were the precursors of that modern school 
of newspaper correspondence in which women 
have so large a share, and which has something 
of the charm of women's private letters, — a 
style of writing where description preponder- 
ates over argument and statistics make way for 
fancy and enthusiasm. Many have since fol- 
lowed in this path, and perhaps Mrs. Child's 
letters would not now be hailed as they then 
were. Others may have equaled her, but she 



128 CONTEMPORARIES 

gave us a new sensation, and that epoch was 
perhaps the climax of her purely literary ca- 
reer. 

Their tone also did much to promote the 
tendency, which was showing itself in those 
days, towards a fresh inquiry into the founda- 
tions of social science. The Brook Farm ex- 
periment was at its height ; and though she 
did not call herself an Associationist, yet she 
quoted Fourier and Swedenborg, and other 
authors who were thought to mean mischief; 
and her highest rhapsodies about poetry and 
music were apt to end in some fervent appeal 
for some increase of harmony in daily life. 
She seemed always to be talking radicalism in 
a greenhouse ; and there were many good people 
who held her all the more dangerous for her per- 
fumes. There were young men and maidens, 
also, who looked to her as a teacher, and were 
influenced for life, perhaps, by what she wrote. 
I knew, for instance, a young lawyer, just en- 
tering on the practice of his profession under 
the most flattering auspices, who withdrew 
from the courts forever — wisely or unwisely, 
— because Mrs. Child's book had taught him to 
hate their contests and their injustice. 

It was not long after this that James Russell 
Lowell, in his " Fable for Critics," gave him- 
self up to one impulse of pure poetry in de- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 129 

scribing Mrs. Child. It is by so many degrees 
the most charming sketch ever made of her 
that the best part of it must be inserted here : — 

" There comes Philothea, her face all aglow, 
She has just been dividing some poor creature's woe, 
And can't tell which pleases her most, to relieve 
His want, or his story to hear and believe ; 

" The pole, science tells us, the magnet controls, 
But she is a magnet to emigrant Poles, 
And folks with a mission that nobody knows 
Throng thickly about her as bees round a rose ; 
She can fill up the carets in such, make their scope 
Converge to some focus of rational hope, 
And with sympathies fresh as the morning, their gall 
Can transmute into honey, — but this is not all ; 
Not only for these she has solace, oh, say, 
Vice's desperate nursling adrift in Broadway, 
Who clingest with all that is left of thee human 
To the last slender spar from the wreck of the woman, 
Hast thou not found one shore where those tired drooping 

feet 
Could reach firm mother earth, one full heart on whose beat 
The soothed head in silence reposing could hear 
The chimes of far childhood throb back on the ear ? 
Ah, there 's many a beam from the fountain of day 
That, to reach us unclouded, must pass on its way 
Through the soul of a woman, and hers is wide ope 
To the influence of Heaven as the blue eyes of Hope ; 
Yes, a great heart is hers, one that dares to go in 
To the prison, the slave-hut, the alleys of sin, 
And to bring into each, or to find there, some line 
Of the never completely out-trampled divine ; 
If her heart at high floods swamps her brain now and then, 
'Tis but richer for that when the tide ebbs again, 
As after old Nile has subsided, his plain 



130 CONTEMPORARIES 

Overflows with a second broad deluge of grain ; 
What a wealth would it bring to the narrow and sour, 
Could they be as a Child but for one little hour ! " 

The two series of " Letters from New 
York" appeared in 1843 and 1845, an< ^ went 
through seven or more editions. They were 
followed in 1 846 by a collection of tales, mostly 
printed, entitled "Fact and Fiction." The 
book was dedicated to "Anna Loring, the 
Child of my Heart," and was a series of power- 
ful and well-told narratives, some purely ideal, 
but mostly based upon the sins of great cities, 
especially those of man against woman. She 
might have sought more joyous themes, but 
none which at that time lay so near her heart. 
There was more sunshine in her next literary 
task, for, in 1852, she collected three small 
volumes of her stories from the " Juvenile Mis- 
cellany " and elsewhere, under the title of 
"Flowers for Children." 

In 1853 she published her next book, en- 
titled " Isaac T. Hopper ; a True Life." This 
gave another new sensation to the public, for 
her books never seemed to repeat each other, 
and belonged to almost as many different de- 
partments as there were volumes. The critics 
complained that this memoir was a little frag- 
mentary, a series of interesting stories without 
sufficient method or unity of conception. Per- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 131 

haps it would have been hard to make it other- 
wise. Certainly, as the book stands, it seems 
like the department of "Benevolence" in the 
" Percy Anecdotes," and serves as an encyclo- 
paedia of daring and noble charities. 

Her next book was the most arduous intel- 
lectual labor of her life, and, as often happens 
in such cases, the least profitable in the way 
of money. "The Progress of Religious Ideas 
through Successive Ages " was published in 
three large volumes in 1855. She had begun 
it long before in New York, with the aid of the 
Mercantile Library and the Commercial Li- 
brary, then the best in the city. It was finished 
in Wayland, with the aid of her brother's store 
of books, and with his and Theodore Parker's 
counsel as to her course of reading. It seems, 
from the preface, that more than eight years 
elapsed between the planning and the printing, 
and for six years it was her main pursuit. For 
this great labor she had absolutely no pecun- 
iary reward ; the book paid its expenses and 
nothing more. It is now out of print and not 
easy to obtain. 

This disappointment was no doubt due partly 
to the fact that the book set itself in decided 
opposition, unequivocal though gentle, to the 
prevailing religious impressions of the commu- 
nity. It may have been, also, that it was too 



132 CONTEMPORARIES 

learned for a popular book and too popular for 
a learned one. Learning, indeed, she distinctly 
disavowed. " If readers complain of want of 
profoundness, they may perchance be willing 
to accept simplicity and clearness in exchange 
for depth." . . . "Doubtless a learned person 
would have performed the task far better in 
many respects ; but, on some accounts, my 
want of learning is an advantage. Thoughts 
do not range so freely when the storeroom of 
the brain is overloaded with furniture." And 
she gives at the end, with her usual frankness, 
a list of works consulted, all being in English 
except seven, which are in French. It was a bold 
thing to base a history of religious ideas on 
such books as Enfield's Philosophy and Taylor's 
Plato. The trouble was not so much that the 
learning was second-hand, — for such is most 
learning, — as that the authorities were second- 
rate. The stream could hardly go higher than 
its source ; and a book based on such very in- 
adequate researches could hardly be accepted, 
even when tried by that very accommodating 
standard, popular scholarship. 

In 1857 Mrs. Child published a volume en- 
titled " Autumnal Leaves ; Tales and Sketches 
in Prose and Rhyme." It might seem from 
this title that she regarded her career of action 
as drawing to a close. If so she was soon unde- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 133 

ceived, and the attack of Captain John Brown 
upon Harper's Ferry aroused her, like many- 
others, from a dream of peace. Immediately 
on the arrest of Captain Brown she wrote him 
a brief letter, asking permission to go and 
nurse him, as he was wounded and among ene- 
mies, and as his wife was supposed to be be- 
yond immediate reach. This letter she inclosed 
in one to Governor Wise. She then went home 
and packed her trunk, with her husband's full 
approval, but decided not to go until she heard 
from Captain Brown, not knowing what his pre- 
cise wishes might be. She had heard that he 
had expressed a wish to have the aid of some 
lawyer not identified with the anti-slavery move- 
ment, and she thought he was entitled to the 
same considerations of policy in regard to a 
nurse. Meantime Mrs. Brown was sent for and 
promptly arrived, while Captain Brown wrote 
Mrs. Child one of his plain and characteristic 
letters, declining her offer, and asking her kind 
aid for his family, which was faithfully given. 

But with this letter came one from Governor 
Wise, — courteous, but rather diplomatic, — 
and containing some reproof of her expressions 
of sympathy for the prisoner. To this she 
wrote an answer, well worded and quite effec- 
tive, which, to her great surprise, soon ap- 
peared in the New York " Tribune." She 



134 CONTEMPORARIES 

wrote to the editor (November 10, 1859): "I 
was much surprised to see my correspondence 
with Governor Wise published in your columns. 
As I have never given any person a copy, I pre- 
sume you must have obtained it from Virginia." 
This correspondence soon led to another. 
Mrs. M. J. C. Mason wrote from " Alto, King 
George's County, Virginia," a formidable de- 
monstration, beginning thus : " Do you read 
your Bible, Mrs. Child ? If you do, read there, 
' Woe unto you hypocrites,' and take to your- 
self, with twofold damnation, that terrible sen- 
tence ; for, rest assured, in the day of judgment, 
it shall be more tolerable for those thus scathed 
by the awful denunciations of the Son of God 
than for you." This startling commencement 
— of which it must be calmly asserted that it 
comes very near swearing, for a lady — leads to 
something like bathos at the end, where Mrs. 
Mason adds in conclusion, "No Southerner 
ought, after your letters to Governor Wise, to 
read a line of your composition, or to touch 
a magazine which bears your name in its list 
of contributors." To begin with double-dyed 
future torments, and come gradually to the 
climax of " Stop my paper," admits of no other 
explanation than that Mrs. Mason had dabbled 
in literature herself, and knew how to pierce 
the soul of a sister in the trade. 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 135 

But the great excitement of that period, and 
the general loss of temper that prevailed, may 
plead a little in vindication of Mrs. Mason's 
vehemence, and must certainly enhance the 
dignity of Mrs. Child's reply. It is one of the 
best things she ever wrote. She refuses to 
dwell on the invectives of her assailant, and 
only " wishes her well, both in this world and 
the next." Nor will she even debate the spe- 
cific case of John Brown, whose body was in 
charge of the courts and his reputation sure 
to be in charge of posterity. " Men, however 
great they may be," she says, "are of small 
consequence in comparison with principles, and 
the principle for which John Brown died is the 
question at issue between us." 

She accordingly proceeds to discuss this ques- 
tion, first scripturally (following the lead of her 
assailant), then on general principles ; and gives 
one of her usual clear summaries of the whole 
argument. Now that the excitements of the 
hour have passed, the spirit of her whole state- 
ment must claim just praise. The series of 
letters was published in pamphlet form in 1 860, 
and secured a wider circulation than anything 
she ever wrote, embracing some three hundred 
thousand copies. In return she received many 
private letters from the slave States, mostly 
anonymous, and often grossly insulting. 



136 CONTEMPORARIES 

Having gained so good a hearing, she fol- 
lowed up her opportunity. During the same 
year she printed two small tracts, " The Patri- 
archal Institution" and " The Duty of Disobe- 
dience to the Fugitive Slave Law," and then 
one of her most elaborate compilations, enti- 
tled "The Right Way the Safe Way, proved 
by Emancipation in the British West Indies 
and Elsewhere." This shows the same syste- 
matic and thorough habit of mind with its pre- 
decessors ; and this business-like way of dealing 
with facts is hard to reconcile with the dreamy 
and almost uncontrolled idealism which she 
elsewhere shows. In action, too, she has usu- 
ally shown the same practical thoroughness, 
and in case of this very book forwarded copies 
at her own expense to fifteen hundred persons 
in the slave States. 

In 1864 she published " Looking towards 
Sunset," — a very agreeable collection of prose 
and verse, by various authors, all bearing upon 
the aspects of old age. This was another of 
those new directions of literary activity with 
which she so often surprised her friends. The 
next year brought still another in the " Freed- 
men's Book," — a collection of short tales and 
sketches suited to the mental condition of the 
Southern freedmen, and published for their 
benefit. It was sold for that purpose at cost, 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 137 

and a good many copies were distributed 
through teachers and missionaries. 

Her last publication, and perhaps (if one 
might venture to guess) her favorite among the 
whole series, appeared in 1867, — "A Romance 
of the Republic." It was received with great 
cordiality, and is in some respects her best fic- 
titious work. The scenes are laid chiefly at 
the South, where she has given the local color- 
ing in a way really remarkable for one who 
never visited that region, while the results of 
slavery are painted with the thorough know- 
ledge of one who had devoted a lifetime to their 
study. The leading characters are of that type 
which has since become rather common in fic- 
tion, because American society affords none 
whose situation is so dramatic, — young quad- 
roons educated to a high grade of culture, and 
sold as slaves after all. All the scenes are 
handled in a broad spirit of humanity, and be- 
tray no trace of that subtle sentiment of caste 
which runs through and through some novels 
written ostensibly to oppose caste. The char- 
acterization is good, and the events interesting 
and vigorously handled. The defect of the 
book is a common one, — too large a frame- 
work, too many vertebra to the plot. Even 
the established climax of a wedding is a safer 
experiment than to prolong the history into 



138 CONTEMPORARIES 

the second generation, as here. The first two 
thirds of the story would have been more effec- 
tive without the conclusion. But it will always 
possess value as one of the few really able de- 
lineations of slavery in fiction, and the author 
may well look back with pride on this final 
offering upon that altar of liberty where so 
much of her life had been already laid. 

In later life Mrs. Child left not only the 
busy world of New York, but almost the world 
of society, and took up her abode (after a short 
residence at West Newton) in the house be- 
queathed to her by her father, at Wayland, 
Mass. In that quiet village she and her hus- 
band peacefully dwelt, avoiding even friend- 
ship's intrusion. Times of peace have no his- 
torian, and the later career of Mrs. Child had 
few of what the world calls events. Her do- 
mestic labors, her studies, her flowers, and her 
few guests kept her ever busy. She had never 
had children of her own, — though, as some 
one has said, she had a great many of other 
people's, — but more than one whom she had 
befriended came to dwell with her after her re- 
tirement, and she came forth sometimes to find 
new beneficiaries. But for many of her kind- 
nesses she did not need to leave home, since 
they were given in the form least to be ex- 
pected from a literary woman, — that of pecun- 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 139 

iary bounty. Few households in the country 
contributed on a scale so very liberal, in pro- 
portion to their means. 

One published letter, however, may serve as 
a sample of many. It was addressed to an 
Anti-Slavery Festival at Boston, and not only 
shows the mode of action adopted by Mr. and 
Mrs. Child, but their latest opinions as to pub- 
lic affairs : — 

Wayland, January 1, 1868. 

Dear Friend Phillips, — We inclose fifty 
dollars as our subscription to the Anti-Slavery 
Society. If our means equaled our wishes, we 
would send a sum as large as the legacy Fran- 
cis Jackson intended for that purpose, and of 
which the society was deprived, as we think, by 
an unjust legal decision. If our sensible and ju- 
dicious friend could speak to us from the other 
side of Jordan, we doubt not he would say that 
the vigilance of the Anti- Slavery Society was 
never more needed than at the present crisis, 
and that, consequently, he was never more dis- 
posed to aid it liberally. . . . 

The British Anti-Slavery Society deserted 
their post too soon. If they had been as watch- 
ful to protect the freed people of the West 
Indies as they were zealous to emancipate them, 
that horrid catastrophe in Jamaica might have 



140 CONTEMPORARIES 

been avoided. The state of things in those 
islands warns us how dangerous it is to trust 
those who have been slaveholders, and those 
who habitually sympathize with slaveholders, 
to frame laws and regulations for liberated 
slaves. As well might wolves be trusted to 
guard a sheepfold. 

We thank God, friend Phillips, that you are 
preserved and strengthened to be a wakeful 
sentinel on the watch-tower, ever to warn a 
drowsy nation against selfish, timid politicians, 
and dawdling legislators, who manifest no trust 
either in God or the people. 

Yours faithfully, 

David L. Child, 
L. Maria Child. 

Mrs. Child outlived her husband six years, 
and died at Wayland, October 20, 1880. She 
was one of those prominent instances in our 
literature of persons born for the pursuits of 
pure intellect, whose intellects were yet bal- 
anced by their hearts, both being absorbed in 
the great moral agitations of the age. "My 
natural inclinations," she once wrote to me, 
"drew me much more strongly towards litera- 
ture and the arts than towards reform, and the 
weight of conscience was needed to turn the 
scale." In a community of artists, she would 



LYDIA MARIA CHILD 141 

have belonged to that class, for she had that 
instinct in her soul. But she was placed where 
there was as yet no exacting literary standard ; 
she wrote better than most of her contempora- 
ries, and well enough for her public. She did 
not, therefore, win that intellectual immortal- 
ity which only the very best writers command, 
and which few Americans have attained. But 
she won a meed which she would value more 
highly, — that warmth of sympathy, that min- 
gled gratitude of intellect and heart which men 
give to those who have faithfully served their 
day and generation. 



HELEN JACKSON (" H. H.") 

It is curious to see how promptly time be- 
gins to apply to the memory of remarkable 
persons, as to their tombstones, an effacing 
process that soon makes all inscriptions look 
alike. Already we see the beginnings of this 
tendency in regard to the late Mrs. Helen Jack- 
son. The most brilliant, impetuous, and thor- 
oughly individual woman of her time, — one 
whose very temperament seemed mingled of 
sunshine and fire, — she is already being por- 
trayed simply as a conventional Sunday-school 
saint. It is undoubtedly true that she wrote 
her first poetry as a bereaved mother and her 
last prose as a zealous philanthropist. Her 
life comprised both these phases, and she thor- 
oughly accepted them ; but it included so much 
more, — it belonged to a personality so unique 
and in many respects so fascinating, — that 
those who knew her best can by no means spare 
her for a commonplace canonization which 
takes the zest out of her memory. To analyze 
her would be impossible except to the trained 



HELEN JACKSON 143 

skill of some French novelist ; and she would 
have been a sealed book to him, because no 
Frenchman could comprehend the curious 
thread of firm New England texture that ran 
through her whole being, tempering wayward- 
ness, keeping impulse from making shipwreck 
of itself, and leading her whole life to a high 
and concentrated purpose at last. And when 
we remember that she hated gossip about her 
own affairs, wrote only under two initials, and 
was rarely willing to mention to reporters any 
fact about herself except her birthday, — which 
she usually, with characteristic willfulness, put 
a year earlier than it was, — it is peculiarly 
hard to do for her now that work which she 
held in such aversion. No fame or publicity 
could ever make her seem, to those who knew 
her, anything but the most private and intimate 
of friends ; and to write about her at all seems 
the betrayal of a confidence. 

Helen Maria Fiske, the daughter of Nathan 
Wiley and Deborah (Vinal) Fiske, was born at 
Amherst, Mass., October 18, 183 1. Her father 
was a native of Weston, Mass., was a graduate 
of Dartmouth College, and, after being a tutor 
in that institution, became professor first of lan- 
guages and then of philosophy in Amherst 
College, having been previously offered a pro- 
fessorship of mathematics at Middlebury Col- 



144 CONTEMPORARIES 

lege, — a combination of facts indicating the 
variety of his attainments. He was also a Con- 
gregationalist minister and an author, publish- 
ing a translation of Eschenburg's " Manual of 
Classical Literature " and one or two books for 
children. He died May 27, 1847, at Jerusalem, 
whither he had gone for the benefit of his health. 
His wife was a native of Boston, and is men- 
tioned with affection by all who knew her ; and 
the daughter used to say that her own sunny 
temperament came from the mother's side. 
She also had literary tastes, and wrote the 
"Letters from a Cat," which her daughter after- 
wards edited, and which show a genuine humor 
and a real power of expression. She died Feb- 
ruary 19, 1844, when her daughter Helen was 
twelve years old. Both parents held the strict 
Calvinistic faith, and the daughter was reared 
in it, though she did not long remain there. 

She was a child of dangerous versatility and 
vivacity ; and her bright sayings were often 
quoted, when she was but ten or twelve years 
old, in the academical circle of the little college 
town. She has herself described in a lively 
paper, "The Naughtiest Day of my Life" 
("St. Nicholas," September-October, 1880), a 
childish feat of running away from home in 
company with another little girl, — on which 
occasion the two children walked to Hadley, 



HELEN JACKSON 145 

four miles, before they were brought back. 
The whole village had joined in the search 
for them, and two professors from the col- 
lege finally reclaimed the wanderers. There is 
something infinitely characteristic of the ma- 
ture woman in the description written by her 
mother, at the time, of the close of that anx- 
ious day: " Helen walked in at a quarter be- 
fore ten o'clock at night, as rosy and smiling 
as possible, and saying in her brightest tone, 
* Oh, mother, I 've had a perfectly splendid 
time.' " 

A child of this description may well have 
needed the discipline of a variety of schools ; 
and she had the advantage of at least two 
good ones, — the well-known Ipswich (Massa- 
chusetts) Female Seminary, and the private 
school of Rev. J. S. C. Abbott in New York 
city. She was married in Boston, when just 
twenty-one — October 28, 1852, — to Captain 
(afterwards Major) Edward B. Hunt, United 
States Army, whom she had first met at Al- 
bany, N. Y., his brother, the Hon. Washing- 
ton Hunt, being at that time governor of the 
State. Captain and Mrs. Hunt led the usual 
wandering life of military households, and were 
quartered at a variety of posts. As an engineer 
officer he held high army rank, and he was 
also a man of considerable scientific attain- 



146 CONTEMPORARIES 

ments. Their first child, Murray, a beautiful 
boy, died of dropsy in the brain, when eleven 
months old, at Tarrytown, N. Y., in August, 
1854. Major Hunt was killed, October 2, 
1863, at Brooklyn, N. Y., while experiment- 
ing with an invention of his own, called a 
" sea-miner," for firing projectiles under water. 
Mrs. Hunt still had her second boy, named 
Warren Horsford, after her friends, General 
G. K. Warren and Professor Horsford, but com- 
monly called " Rennie." He had, by testimony 
of all, a rare combination of gifts and qualities, 
but died suddenly of diphtheria at his aunt's 
home in West Roxbury, Mass., on April 13, 
1865. Mrs. Hunt was thus left utterly be- 
reaved, and the blow was crushing. It shows 
the strong relation between mother and child, 
and also the precocious character of her boy, 
that he made her promise not to take her own 
life after he should be gone. She made him pro- 
mise, in return, that if it were a possible thing 
he would overcome all obstacles and come back 
from the other world to speak to her ; and the 
fact that this was never done kept her all her 
life a disbeliever in Spiritualism : what Rennie 
could not do, she felt must be impracticable. 
For months after his death she shut herself up 
from her nearest friends ; and when she appeared 



HELEN JACKSON 147 

among them at last, she was smiling, vivacious, 
and outwardly unchanged. 

Up to this time, although her life had been 
full of variety and activity, it had been mainly 
domestic and social, and she had shown no 
special signs of a literary vocation. She loved 
society, was personally very attractive, dressed 
charmingly, and had many friends of both 
sexes. Through her husband she knew many 
superior men, but they belonged almost wholly 
to the military class, or were those men of 
science whom she was wont to meet at the 
scientific gatherings to which she accompa- 
nied Major Hunt. It was not till she went, 
at the age of thirty-four, to live in Newport, 
R. I., that she was brought much in contact 
with people whose pursuits were literary ; and 
it was partly, no doubt, through their compan- 
ionship that a fresh interest and a new em- 
ployment opened almost unexpectedly before 
her. How wholly she regarded her life as 
prematurely ended at the close of its first 
phase, may be seen by a letter written soon 
after establishing herself in Newport, whence 
she had made a trip to West Point to superin- 
tend the removal of the remains of her husband 
and children to that spot. After speaking of 
the talents and acquirements whose career was 
finished, she bitterly added, " And I alone am 



148 CONTEMPORARIES 

left, who avail nothing." She had yet to learn 
how much her own life was to avail. 

When she went to live in Newport (Febru- 
ary 10, 1866), she had already written poems, 
and had shown them to her friends. She had, 
indeed, when in her teens, published some girl- 
ish verses in the Boston " Press and Post," but 
her mature compositions had all related, so far 
as I know, to her personal bereavements. Of 
these she had published one in the " Nation " 
(July 20, 1865); this being in the very first 
volume of that periodical, which was edited by 
a personal friend, and which gave at first more 
space to poetry than now. This poem was 
called " Lifted Over," and consisted of fourteen 
lines of blank verse, referring to the death of 
her boy, and signed "Marah." The fact of its 
publication makes it likely that, wherever she 
had taken up her residence, she would have 
published more poetry of the elegiac kind ; but 
it is doubtful whether her lyre would have 
reached a wide variety of notes, or whether she 
would have been known as a prose writer at 
all but for the stimulus and fresh interests 
developed by her change of abode. In the 
society of her new friends she began for the 
first time to make a study of literary style 
and methods ; she interchanged criticism with 
others, and welcomed it as applied to her own 



HELEN JACKSON 149 

attempts; she soon ventured to publish more 
poems, and then to try herself in prose. The 
signature "H. H." first appeared, I believe, in 
connection with the first thing she published 
after her removal to Newport. This was a 
poem called "Tryst," in the "Nation" (April 

12, 1866), followed soon by a translation — 
almost the only one she ever made — from 
Victor Hugo's "Le Soir" ("Nation," April 26, 
1866) and by two poems called "A Burial Ser- 
vice" (May 22) and "Old Lamps for New" 
(May 29), — this last being, perhaps by accident, 
unsigned. 

These were soon followed by poems in the 
New York "Independent," — beginning with 
"Hagar" (August 2, 1866) and "Bread on the 
Waters" (August 9, 1866); she still keeping 
mainly to her experiences of sorrow. Her first 
attempt in prose, under her own signature, ap- 
peared in the same newspaper for September 

13, 1866, and was entitled "In the White 
Mountains." It was a sketch of a walk up 
Mount Washington from the Glen House, and, 
though spiritedly written, gave little indica- 
cation of her rising so far above the grade of 
the average summer correspondent as she 
ultimately attained. She also wrote an un- 
signed review of " Felix Holt " in the same 
number. From this time till her death she 



150 CONTEMPORARIES 

was an occasional correspondent of that jour- 
nal, — writing for it, as its editors say, three 
hundred and seventy-one articles in all. She 
wrote also in " Hearth and Home," and pub- 
lished a few poems in the New York " Even- 
ing Post." 

Thus launched into literature, she entered 
with the enthusiasm of a child upon her new 
work. She distrusted herself, was at first fear- 
ful of each new undertaking, yet was eager to 
try everything, and the moment each plunge 
was taken lost all fear. I remember the sur- 
prise with which she received the suggestion 
that no doubt publishers would be happy to 
send her their books if she would only review 
them ; and her delight, as in a new world, when 
she opened the first parcels. From the begin- 
ning she composed with great rapidity, writ- 
ing on large sheets of yellow post-office paper, 
eschewing pen and ink, and insisting that a 
lead pencil alone could keep pace with the swift- 
ness of her thoughts. The remarkable thing 
was that, with all this quickness, she was al- 
ways ready to revise and correct, and was also 
a keen and minute critic on the writings of 
others. It was very surprising that one who 
was not really familiar with any language but 
her own — for the Latin of her school days 
had already faded and even her French was at 



HELEN JACKSON 151 

that time very imperfect — should have such a 
perception of the details of style. She had, 
however, been well trained in English at school, 
and used to quote Karnes's " Elements of Criti- 
cism " as one of the books she had read there. 
Both her father and her mother had also taken 
an interest in her early school compositions. 

A statement has sometimes appeared, on the 
authority of the late Mr. R. W. Emerson, that 
she sent poems to the " Atlantic " in those 
early days, and that they were rejected. It is 
possible that my memory may not include all 
the facts, but I am confident that this state- 
ment is an error. It is certain that she was 
repeatedly urged to send something in that direc- 
tion by a friend who then contributed largely 
to the magazine, namely, myself, but she for 
a long time declined, saying that the editors 
were overwhelmed with poor poetry, and that 
she would wait for something of which she felt 
sure. At last she gave me her poem called 
" Coronation," with permission to show it to 
Mr. Fields and let him have it if he wished, 
at a certain price. It was a high price for a 
new-comer to demand ; but she was inexorable, 
including rather curiously among her traits that 
of being an excellent business woman, and gen- 
erally getting for her wares the price she set 
upon them. Fields read it at once, and ex- 



152 CONTEMPORARIES 

claimed, " It 's a good poem ; " then read it 
again, and said, " It 's a devilish good poem," 
and accepted it without hesitation. It appeared 
in the "Atlantic" for February, 1869, and an- 
other poem, " The Way to Sing," followed it 
a year after; but Fields, while greatly admir- 
ing her prose, never quite did justice to her 
poetry, so that she offered but little verse to his 
magazine. Her "German Landlady" appeared 
there (October, 1870), and was followed by a 
long line of prose papers, continuing nearly 
until her death. Her little volume of "Verses" 
was printed rather reluctantly by Fields, Os- 
good & Co. (1870), she paying for the stereo- 
type plates, as was also the case with her first 
prose volume, "Bits of Travel" (1873), pub- 
lished by their successors, James R. Osgood & 
Co. Soon after this she transferred her books 
to Roberts Brothers, who issued " Bits of Talk 
about Home Matters " (1873) and a much en- 
larged edition of "Verses" (1874). After this 
she was a very prosperous author. 

She spent in all five winters at Newport, 
always at the same hospitable home, — Mrs. 
Hannah Dame's boarding-house, — and always 
going somewhere among the mountains in sum- 
mer early enough to keep off hay fever, from 
which she suffered. Then she returned, late 
in autumn, preceded by great trunks and chests 



HELEN JACKSON 153 

full of pressed ferns and autumn leaves, which 
she dispensed royally among her friends during 
the whole winter-time. These Newport sea- 
sons were interrupted by an absence of some 
fourteen months in Europe (November, 1868, 
to February, 1870), and she had several serious 
illnesses toward the latter part of the period. 
Indeed, she had an almost fatal attack while in 
Rome, and I am informed by the friend with 
whom she traveled, Miss Sarah F. Clarke, of a 
peculiarly characteristic act of hers when con- 
valescent. Going to Albano to recruit, she re- 
fused to carry with her a professed nurse, as 
her friends desired, but insisted on taking a 
young Italian girl of sixteen, who had never 
had a vacation in her hard-working life, and to 
whom the whole period of attendance would be 
a prolonged felicity. 

In May, 1872, she went to California with 
her friend Miss Sarah C. Woolsey, and in 1873- 
74, being convinced that her health needed a 
thorough change of climate, tried the experi- 
ment of a winter in Colorado. This State be- 
came soon after her permanent home, — she 
being married in October, 1875, at her sister's 
house in Wolfboro, N. H., to Mr. William 
Sharpless Jackson, of Colorado Springs. They 
were married by the ceremonial of the Society 
of Friends, the bridegroom being of that persua- 



154 CONTEMPORARIES 

sion. For the remaining ten years of her career 
she had a delightful abode and a happy do- 
mestic life, although the demands of her health 
and her literary work, joined with a restless 
and adventurous disposition, kept her a great 
deal in motion between her new and her old 
haunts. Nobody was ever a more natural wan- 
derer. She always carried with her a compact 
store of favorite pictures, Japanese prints, and 
the like; so that, within an hour after she 
had taken possession of a room at the Parker 
House in Boston or the Berkeley in New York, 
she would be sitting in a tasteful boudoir of 
her own arranging. With this came an equally 
ready acceptance of the outdoor surroundings 
of each place ; and in migrating farther west, 
she soon knew more of Omaha or San Fran- 
cisco than the oldest inhabitant. Her wonder- 
ful eye for external nature traveled with her; 
she planned her house at Colorado Springs with 
an unerring adaptation to the landscape, and 
on one occasion welcomed a friend with more 
than twenty different vases of the magnificent 
wild flowers of that region — each vase filled 
with a great sheaf of a single species. She 
had always lavished so much adornment on one 
or two rooms that her friends had wondered 
what she would do with a whole house ; and 
those who visited her at Colorado Springs be- 
held the fulfillment of their wonderings. 



HELEN JACKSON 155 

For the second time she was to encounter a 
wholly new intellectual experience after adopt- 
ing a new abode. The literary development, 
which had begun somewhat late, was to be 
merged into a moral enthusiasm, beginning still 
later. She wrote to an intimate friend (Janu- 
ary 17, 1880) : — 

" I have done now, I believe, the last of the 
things I had said I never would do ; I have be- 
come what I have said a thousand times was 
the most odious thing in life, — * a woman with 
a hobby.' But I cannot help it. I think I feel 
as you must have felt in the old abolition days. 
I cannot think of anything else from night to 
morning and from morning to night. ... I 
believe the time is drawing near for a great 
change in our policy toward the Indian. In 
some respects, it seems to me, he is really worse 
off than the slaves ; they did have in the ma- 
jority of cases good houses, and they were not 
much more arbitrarily controlled than the In- 
dian is by the agent on a reservation. He can 
order a corporal's guard to fire on an Indian at 
any time he sees fit. He is * duly empowered 
by the government.' " 

In this same letter she announces her inten- 
tion of going to work for three months at the 
Astor Library on her " Century of Dishonor ;" 
and it is worth noticing that with all her en- 



156 CONTEMPORARIES 

thusiasm she does not disregard that careful 
literary execution which is to be the means to 
her end ; for in the same letter she writes to 
this friend, one of her earliest critics : " I shall 
never write a sentence, so long as I live, with- 
out studying it over from the standpoint of 
whether you would think it could be bettered." 
This shows that she did not, as some have sup- 
posed, grow neglectful of literature in the inter- 
est of reform ; as if a carpenter were supposed 
to neglect his tools in order to finish his job. 

Her especial interest in the Indians was not 
the instantaneous result of her Colorado life, 
but the travels and observations of those first 
years were doubtless preparing the way for it. 
It came to a crisis in 1879, when she heard the 
Indians " Standing Bear " and " Bright Eyes " 
lecture in Boston on the wrongs of the Poncas, 
and afterwards met them in New York, at the 
house of her friend Mrs. Botta. Her immedi- 
ate sympathy for them seemed very natural to 
those who knew her, but it was hardly foreseen 
how strong and engrossing that interest would 
become. Henceforth she subordinated litera- 
ture not to an ulterior aim, merely, for that she 
had often done before, but to a single aim. It 
must be remembered, in illustration of this, that 
at least half the papers in her " Bits of Talk " 
were written with a distinct moral purpose, and 



HELEN JACKSON 157 

so were many of her poems ; and from this 
part of her work she had always great enjoy- 
ment. So ready were her sympathies that she 
read with insatiable pleasure the letters that 
often came to her from lonely women or anx- 
ious schoolgirls who had found help in her 
simple domestic or religious poems, while her 
depths of passion would only have frightened 
them, and they would have listened bewildered 
to those sonnets which Emerson carried in his 
pocket-book and pulled out to show his friends. 
No, there was always a portion of her litera- 
ture itself which had as essentially a moral mo- 
tive as had " Ramona ; " and, besides, she had 
always been ready to throw aside her writing 
and devote whole days, in her impulsive way, to 
some generous task. For instance, she once, 
at the risk of great unpopularity, invoked the 
aid of the city solicitor and half the physicians 
in Newport to investigate the case of a poor 
boy who was being, as she believed, starved to 
death, and whom the investigation came too 
late to save. 

Nor was the Indian question the first reform 
that had set her thinking, although she was by 
temperament fastidious, and therefore conser- 
vative. On the great slavery question she had 
always, I suspect, taken regular-army views ; 
she liked to have colored people about her as 



158 CONTEMPORARIES 

servants, but was disposed to resent anything 
like equality; yet she went with me to a jubilee 
meeting of the colored people of Newport, after 
emancipation, and came away full of enthusi- 
asm and sympathy, with much contrition as to 
things she had previously said and done. She 
tried to prevent her Newport hostess from re- 
ceiving a highly educated young quadroon lady 
as a temporary boarder in the house ; but when 
the matter was finally compromised by her com- 
ing to tea only, Mrs. Hunt lavished kindnesses 
upon her, invited her to her private parlor, and 
won her heart. The same mixture of prejudice 
and generosity marked her course in matters re- 
lating to the advancement of her own sex. Pro- 
fessedly abhorring woman suffrage, she went 
with me to a convention on the subject in New 
York, under express contract to write a satir- 
ical report in a leading newspaper ; but was so 
instantly won over — as many another has been 
— by the sweet voice of Lucy Stone, that she 
defaulted as a correspondent, saying to me, 
" Do you suppose I ever could write against 
anything which that woman wishes to have 
done?" Afterwards she hospitably enter- 
tained the same lecturer when visiting Colo- 
rado ; and a few months before her death she 
gave an English advocate of the cause a letter 
to one of her Eastern friends, saying that her 



HELEN JACKSON 159 

old prejudices were somewhat shaken. A Cali- 
fornia friend tells me, indeed, that she some- 
times felt moved to write something on the 
legal and other disabilities of women. 

But if other reforms had touched her a little, 
they had never controlled or held her, until the 
especial interest in the Poncas arose. After 
that she took up work in earnest, studied the 
facts, corresponded with statesmen, and finally 
wrote her " Century of Dishonor," as has been 
said. Over this she fairly worked herself ill, 
and was forced to go to Norway for refresh- 
ment with her friends the Horsfords, leaving 
the proofreading to be done by myself. Sev- 
eral charming memorials of this trip appeared 
in the magazines. She afterwards received an 
appointment from the United States govern- 
ment to report on the condition and needs of 
the California " Mission Indians," in connec- 
tion with Abbott Kinney, Esq., and she visited 
all or most of those tribes for this purpose in 
the spring of 1883. The report of the com- 
missioners, which is understood to have been 
mainly prepared by her, is as clear, as full, and 
as sensible as if it had been written by the 
most prosaic of mankind. She also explored the 
history of the early Spanish missions, whose 
story of enthusiasm and picturesqueness won 
her heart, and she wrote the series of papers 



160 CONTEMPORARIES 

in regard to these missions which appeared in 
the " Century Magazine." 

During this whole period, moreover, she did 
not neglect her earlier productions, but gath- 
ered them into volumes, publishing " Bits of 
Talk for Young Folks" (1876) and "Bits of 
Travel at Home" (1878). She also issued sep- 
arately (1879) a single poem, "The Story of 
Boon." This was founded on a tale told in 
"The English Governess at the Siamese Court," 
by Mrs. A. H. Leonowens, a lady whose enthu- 
siasm and eloquence found ardent sympathy in 
Mrs. Hunt, who for her sake laid down her 
strong hostility to women's appearance on the 
platform, and zealously organized two lectures 
for her friend. She published also a little book 
of her mother's, " Letters from a Cat " (1880), 
and followed it up by " Mammy Tittleback's 
Stories" (1881), of her own, and "The Hunter 
Cats of Connorloa" (1884). Another book, 
for rather older children, was " Nelly's Silver 
Mine " (1878), and she wrote a little book called 
"The Training of Children" (1882). Then 
came " Ramona," first published in the "Chris- 
tian Union" in 1884, appearing there because 
it had been written, as it were, at a white heat, 
and she could not wait for the longer delays of 
a magazine. It was issued in book form that 
same year, and completes the list of her ac- 



HELEN JACKSON 161 

knowledged works. It was no secret, however, 
that she wrote, in the " No Name " series, 
"Mercy Philbrick's Choice" (1876) and " Hetty's 
Strange History " (1877). Into the question of 
other works that may have been rightly or 
wrongly attributed to her, the present writer 
does not propose to enter. 

The sad story of her last illness need not 
here be recapitulated. She seemed the victim 
of a series of misfortunes, beginning with the 
long confinement incident to a severe fracture 
of the leg in June, 1884, this being followed by 
her transfer to a malarious residence in Cali- 
fornia, and at last by the discovery of a con- 
cealed cancerous affection that had baffled her 
physicians and herself. During all this period 
— much of it spent alone, with only a hired 
attendant, far from all old friends, though she 
was cheered by the constant kindness of newer 
ones — her sunny elasticity never failed ; and 
within a fortnight of her death she wrote long 
letters, in a clear and vigorous hand, expressing 
only cheerful hopes for the future, whether she 
should live or die. One of the last of these 
was to President Cleveland, to thank him for 
sustaining the rights of the Indians. Her hus- 
band, who had been previously detained in Col- 
orado by important business, was with her at 
the last, and she passed away quietly but un- 



162 CONTEMPORARIES 

consciously, on the afternoon of August 12, 
1885. A temporary interment took place in 
San Francisco, the services being performed by 
the Rev. Horatio Stebbins, who read, very ap- 
propriately, the " Last Words," with which her 
little volume of verses ends. It was the pre- 
cise memorial she would have desired. 

The poetry of Mrs. Jackson unquestionably 
takes rank above that of any American woman, 
and its only rival would be found, curiously 
enough, in that of her early schoolmate, Emily 
Dickinson. Emerson, as is well known, rated 
it above that of almost all American men. Her 
works include, first, the simple poetry of do- 
mestic life ; secondly, love poems of extraordi- 
nary intensity and imaginative fullness ; thirdly, 
verses showing most intimate sympathy with 
external nature ; and lastly, a few poems of the 
highest dignity and melody in the nature of 
odes, such as "A Christmas Symphony" and 
"A Funeral March." The poem which com- 
bines the most of depth and the most of popu- 
lar appreciation is that called " Spinning," where 
a symbol drawn from common life assumes the 
sort of solemn expressiveness that belongs to 
the humble actions of peasants in the pictures 
of the French Millet. Emerson's favorite was 
her sonnet called " Thought ; " and other critics 
have given the palm for exquisiteness of musi- 



HELEN JACKSON 163 

cal structure to her " Gondolieds." But her 
poetry was only a small portion of her literary 
work ; and of the range and value of this pro- 
duct, a good conception will be given when we 
say that a plan was at one time seriously formed, 
by the late Dr. Holland and his associate in 
charge of the " Century Magazine," to let Mrs. 
Jackson's contributions accumulate sufficiently 
to fill one number of the periodical, — poetry, 
fiction, travels, criticism, and all, — and then 
send it all forth as the product of one person. 
The plan was finally dismissed, as I am assured, 
not from the slightest doubt of its practicabil- 
ity, but only because it might be viewed as sen- 
sational. It would have been the greatest com- 
pliment ever yet paid by editors, in the whole 
history of magazine literature, to the resources 
of a single contributor. 

There is in her prose writings an even excel- 
lence of execution which is not always to be 
found in her poetry, and which is surpassed by 
hardly any American writer. It is always clear, 
strong, accurate, spirited, and forcible ; she had 
a natural instinct for literary structure, as well 
as style, and a positive genius for giving char- 
acteristic and piquant titles to what she wrote. 
It was her delight not merely to explore the 
new, but to throw novel and unexpected fresh- 
ness around the old. Before she had become 



164 CONTEMPORARIES 

so wide a traveler she used to plan a book, to 
be called " Explorations " or some such title, in 
which all the most familiar scenery was to be 
described under fictitious names ; and only the 
map appended would gradually reveal, through 
its new local phraseology, that "Hide and Seek 
Town " was Princeton, Mass., and so on indefi- 
nitely. Her poetry sometimes offered deeper 
enigmas than these superficial ones, and some 
of the best of it will never be fully compre- 
hended but by the few who had the key to 
the events or emotions that called it forth. So 
ardent were her sympathies that everything 
took color from her personal ties ; and her read- 
iness to form these ties with persons of all 
ages, both sexes, and every condition not only 
afforded some of her greatest joys, but also 
brought the greatest perils of her life ; often 
involving misconception, perplexity, and keen 
disappointment to herself and to others. Her 
friendships with men had the frankness and 
openness that most women show only to one 
another ; and her friendships with women had 
the romance and ideal atmosphere that her sex 
usually reserves for men. There was an utterly 
exotic and even tropical side of her nature, 
strangely mingled with the traits that came 
from her New England blood. Where her sym- 
pathy went, even in the least degree, there she 



HELEN JACKSON 165 

was ready to give all she had, — attention, time, 
trouble, money, popularity, reputation, — and 
this with only too little thought of the morrow. 
The result was found not merely in many un- 
reasonable requests, but in inconvenient and 
unlooked-for expectations. During the middle 
period of her life there was never any security 
that the morning postman might not bring an 
impassioned letter from some enamored young 
girl, proposing to come and spend her life with 
her benefactress ; or a proffer of hand and 
heart from some worthy man, with whom she 
had mistakenly supposed herself to be on a 
footing of the plainest good-fellowship. It some- 
times taxed all her great resources of kindness 
and ready wit to extract herself from such en- 
tanglements ; and she never could be made to 
understand how they had come about or why 
others in turn succeeded them. 

She had great virtues, marked inconsisten- 
cies, and plenty of fascinating faults that came 
near to virtues. She was never selfishly un- 
generous, but she was impulsive in her scorn of 
mean actions, and was sometimes very unjust 
to those whom she simply did not understand ; 
this misconception usually occurring, however, 
in the too Quixotic defense of a friend or a prin- 
ciple. To those who knew her best she was a 
person quite unique and utterly inexhaustible ; 



166 CONTEMPORARIES 

and though her remoteness of residence during 
the last ten years had separated her from the 
society of many of her earlier friends, there is 
not one of them who did not feel the world 
deeply impoverished by her going out of it. 
She did not belong to a class ; she left behind 
her no second ; and neither memory nor fancy 
can restore her as she was, or fully reproduce, 
even for those who knew her best, that ardent 
and joyous personality. And those who recall 
her chiefly in gayer moods will find their re- 
membrance chastened by the thought that she 
could write, when finally face to face with 
death, such a poem as " Habeas Corpus," " Ac- 
quainted with Grief," and "A Last Prayer," or 
even a letter like this : — 

"I feel that my work is done, and I am heart- 
ily, honestly, and cheerfully ready to go. In 
fact, I am glad to go. You have never fully 
realized how for the last four years my whole 
heart has been full of the Indian cause — how 
I felt, as the Quakers say, ■ a concern ' to work 
for it. My ' Century of Dishonor ' and * Ra- 
mona ' are the only things I have done of which 
I am glad now. The rest is of no moment. 
They will live and they will bear fruit. They 
already have. The change in public feeling on 
the Indian question in the last three years is 
marvelous ; an Indian Rights' Association in 



HELEN JACKSON 167 

every large city in the land. . . . Every word 
of the Indian history in ' Ramona ' is literally 
true, and it is being reenacted here every day. 

" I did mean to write a child's story on the 
same theme as * Ramona/ but I doubt if I could 
have made it so telling a stroke, so perhaps it 
is as well that I should not do it. And per- 
haps I shall do it after all, but I cannot con- 
ceive of getting well after such an illness as 
this." 



JOHN HOLMES 

It is now some years since I spent a certain 
agreeable evening, at the house of a Cambridge 
neighbor, with the celebrated Pere Hyacinthe 
and his accomplished American wife. They 
had with them their only child, a little boy 
eight or ten, who had been described in some 
of the French journals as a monster of deform- 
ity, inasmuch as his father had been a priest, 
but who was in reality beautiful in form and 
face, and altogether attractive. The child was 
in his first enthusiasm of autograph collecting. 
He had a pile of little squares of paper, neatly 
cut, and whenever a new guest entered the 
room, he would run to his mother or to the 
hostess, asking eagerly in respect to the latest 
visitor, " Est-il celebre ? " Whenever told that 
the new-comer was at least sufficiently cele- 
brated for autographic purposes, the child would 
come shyly and gracefully up to him and ask 
in the sweetest of voices for his signature. At 
last there entered a short, squarely built man, 
with white hair, white mustache, and thick 
eyebrows still black — with erect figure, fine 



JOHN HOLMES 169 

carriage of the head, and a bearing often de- 
scribed as military. The hostess, after the 
usual inquiry, explained to the little boy that 
this new guest, though not personally famous, 
was the only brother of the celebrated Dr. 
Oliver Wendell Holmes. The newly arrived 
guest, being therefore offered his little piece of 
paper and having presumably heard the con- 
sultation, wrote upon it this brief inscription, 
"John Holmes, frere de mon frfre." 

The statement, however felicitous under the 
circumstances, would not bear more than a 
general acceptance as to the facts. Few bro- 
thers so gifted were less alike in looks and 
in habits, and although without the slightest 
visible disagreement, and residing but a few 
miles from each other, they had practically 
lived much apart. In their personal habits, 
indeed, they covered the whole range, from 
the most vivacious and companionable existence 
to the most reticent and reserved. The elder 
brother was born to live among cheery, social 
groups. He was fond of society, not averse to 
admiration, always ready for new acquaintances 
and novel experiences. The younger brother, 
while the more distinguished and noticeable in 
appearance of the two, was in the last degree 
self-withdrawing and modest, more than con- 
tent to be held by the world at arm's length, 



170 CONTEMPORARIES 

yet capable of the most devoted and unselfish 
loyalty to the few real intimates he loved. 
Perhaps my first vivid association with him is 
when my elder brother, one of his especial cro- 
nies and then a law student, came home with 
two volumes of a newly published set of the 
Waverley novels, the first American edition. 
He said to my mother, "Johnny has just given 
me these, and he says he is going to give me 
the whole set." "But you ought not to accept 
them," said my mother. "He cannot afford 
such a gift." " But he has already subscribed 
for them," said my brother, "and he says if I 
don't take them he '11 put them in the fire, and 
it would be just like Johnny to do it." From 
this there was no appeal, and it would be dif- 
ficult to tell how much of the enjoyment of my 
boyhood I owe to this imprudent generosity of 
John Holmes. 

Born at Cambridge (March 29, 18 12) in the 
" gambrel-roofed house " made famous by his 
brother; graduating at Harvard in 1832 and at 
the Harvard Law School in 1839; he was for 
years of early life kept by chronic lameness a 
prisoner in his chair, with one foot on a footrest. 
He never practiced law, nor did he attempt any 
other profession, and he never married, — his 
betrothed having died of consumption in his 
early youth. He lived alone for many years 



JOHN HOLMES 171 

with his aged mother, who died at the age of 
ninety-three, on August 19, 1862. A quaint por- 
trait of her will be found engraved in Morse's 
Life of Dr. Holmes (ii. 164). Her elder son 
describes her as "keeping her lively sensibili- 
ties and sweet intelligence to the last," and goes 
on to add : " My brother John had long cared 
for her in the most tender way, and it almost 
broke his heart to part with her. She was a 
daughter to him, she said, and he had fondly 
thought that love and care could keep her frail 
life to the filling up of a century or beyond it. 
It was a pity to look on him in his first grief ; 
but Time, the great consoler, is busy with his 
anodyne, and he is coming back to himself " 
(Morse's Holmes, ii. 165). 

Not long after Mrs. Holmes's death the old 
house became the property of Harvard Univer- 
sity and John Holmes lived for the rest of his 
life in a little cottage on the short street called 
Appian Way. Here he boarded with an excellent 
and faithful woman who had been for many years 
in the service of the Holmes household. His 
mode of life, always blameless and abstemious, 
was now almost Spartan in its simplicity ; few 
college students at the present day have rooms 
so bare, and he would allow himself no indul- 
gence beyond occasional carriage driving with 
old friends. His circle of intimates included 



172 CONTEMPORARIES 

only six or eight persons in Cambridge : James 
Russell Lowell, John Bartlett, Dr. Estes Howe 
(Holmes's classmate and Lowell's brother-in- 
law), Professor James B. Thayer, and for a time 
James Murray Howe, Dr. Howe's younger bro- 
ther. With these he used to take walks on Cam- 
bridge Common, which he called the " philoso- 
pher's camp," and with the first three of these 
he used regularly to play whist. There were 
included in his circle also a few ladies whom he 
had known from youth, and also the late Robert 
Carter, Lowell's associate in editing " The Pio- 
neer," whom the poet had christened Don 
Roberto Wagonero, or, more briefly, the Don. 
Holmes owned a little real estate in Cambridge, 
yielding him a modest support and freeing him 
from pecuniary anxiety. He had at intervals 
recurrences of the old lameness and also of 
weak eyes, but his buoyancy of temperament 
made these quite subordinate. His friends 
read aloud to him a great deal. His neighbor 
and business manager, George P. Lawrence, 
Esq., tells me that he read to Holmes nearly 
the whole series of the Erckmann - Chatrian 
historical novels ; the reader receiving from his 
friend the brevet name of Cobus, from a ser- 
geant in one of the stories, and being habitually 
called on for the countersign before entering 
the door. Lowell's letters, on the other hand, 



JOHN HOLMES *73 

Holmes never wished to have read to him, 
saying that he " knew it all before." He had 
plenty of such little whims, as for instance in 
disliking to have flowers sent to him, and saying 
he did not enjoy their odor. He was never 
prominent in the circle of his brother's friends, 
except in the case of Lowell. His name does 
not once occur in the index to Longfellow's 
memoirs, though the two men lived within a 
few blocks of each other and although the 
poet's eldest daughter was in later life a kind 
and devoted friend to him. It is indeed found 
but four times in the index to Morse's Life 
of Dr. O. W. Holmes. In the two volumes 
of Lowell's letters, on the other hand, John 
Holmes appears nearly as often as his more 
famous brother. 

The main incidents of John Holmes's eighty- 
seven years of life, — for he died on January 27, 
1899 — consisted of two visits to Europe, one 
in 1839 when a young law student, and again 
when he went with Mr. and Mrs. J. R. Lowell 
in July, 1872, remaining this time until June of 
the following year, having spent most of the 
period in Paris, but also a month in Italy and a 
short time in Germany. He was never a pro- 
fuse letter writer, and even his brief European 
epistles give us little beyond routine. In 
spite of the companionship of Lowell, he was 



174 CONTEMPORARIES 

restrained by his own infirmities in respect to 
sight and locomotion ; so that he says in one of 
these letters to Mr. Bartlett (Paris, November 
26, 1872 :) " You see that it is by no means a 
gay life that I lead away from home, though 
now a very comfortable one, and so far as 
domestic life is concerned a very pleasant one, 
except that I am necessarily a great deal alone. 
J. L. [Lowell] has to go out a good deal, and 
I cannot of course accompany him. Paris is 
more beautiful than I remember it to be, and a 
more solid city than London, if stone is con- 
sidered more massive than brick." Compare, 
on the other hand, the endless amusement he 
extracts in Cambridge from the midsummer 
desertion of a college town : — 

" Solitude reigns here. The average number 
of people that pass for twelve hours from 6 to 
6, per hour is y 1 ^. At io 5 p. m. the travel (of 
pedestrians) is o, and from that time till 6 the 
next morning, you can hear a small dog bark, 
over the river. I should like to hear a hand- 
organ, or some fire crackers, or some saw-filing 
or something. The only amusement we have 
is the burglaries. You would be surprised to 
see how cheerful everybody looks when there 
has been a ' breaking and entering' (Legal 
expression). But they are very rare. Of 
course we can't count the funerals that pass 



JOHN HOLMES 175 

through town as gaieties : but I fear that some 
people — I hesitate to express my thought — 
yes, I will say it — that some people begin to 
enjoy them. The city government foresaw the 
dullness & melancholy of midsummer and by 
a happy thought, they instituted repairs on the 
old burial ground to keep people's spirits up. 
There are no mosquitoes nor bugs and I confess 
I miss them, — they make things lively, at any 
rate." 

Then follows : — 

DIARY OF A CITIZEN OF CAMBRIDGE. 

August i. Repairs of meetinghouse & bury- 
ing ground going on — a dorbug flew in at a 
window — caused alarm of burglars — great 
excitement in the town. 

August 2. Repairs still going on ; a man 
who had n't left enough in his bottle fell off his 
cart, but escaped without broken legs — a great 
deal of excitement in the town — 

August 3. Repairs still going on. 

August 4. Repairs continued. 

August 5. Repairs on the meetinghouse 
going on. 

August 6. Repairs of meetinghouse & bur- 
ial ground very considerably advanced. 

August 7. Workmen still busy on the 
meetinghouse. 



176 CONTEMPORARIES 

August 8. The repairs of the church are 
continued. 

August 9. The meetinghouse still under 
repair. 

Later in the season he notes the premonitions 
of the autumnal return of his Cambridge neigh- 
bors : " You see at dusk a little procession move 
wearily along Appian Way. The smallest child 
has something or other to carry. It does n't 
look like a jubilant return." 

While in Paris Holmes studied French most 
faithfully, though perhaps tardily ; and he used 
every summer afterwards to work away at 
his French grammar on the piazza of my 
brother's house at Cohasset, or that of Dr. 
Charles Ware, their classmate and boyish play- 
mate, at Rindge, N. H. My sister-in-law 
described him as the pleasantest of inmates, — 
always able to amuse himself even in the inter- 
vals of French grammar ; a little whimsical and 
old-bachelorish, but never taking offense and 
never moody or suffering from ennui. This 
was all in keeping. The mere wit is lost with- 
out a companion with whom to cross swords, 
but the humorist finds a companion in the pass- 
ing stranger, in a stray dog, in a butterfly, or in 
a cankerworm. This at least, was true of John 
Holmes. 



JOHN HOLMES 177 

I do not suppose that there was ever a mo- 
ment in John Holmes's peaceful and prolonged 
existence when he could really have been said 
to have envied his more famous brother. The 
" cool sequestered vale of life " was the choice 
of his temperament, and he certainly had it. 
When Ralph Waldo Emerson once said of him, 
"John Holmes represents humor, while his 
elder brother stands for wit," he really placed 
the younger the higher of the two ; but it is 
doubtful whether the latter ever heard the re- 
mark, or would have paid much attention to it 
had it reached him. Wits are not uncommon 
and are seldom unappreciated, but the inborn 
humorist, for whom daily life furnishes its own 
entertainment, is less recognized by the public 
and yet seldom suffers by the omission. The 
most commonplace event, the most uninterest- 
ing tramp who wandered through the little 
street, was enough to feed John Holmes's 
thoughts and to supply his conversation with 
spice. He kept piles of assorted coins on his 
window seat with which to supply, according to 
his whim, these stray passers-by, sometimes 
questioning them and getting an ample money's 
worth before they left him. Next to them in 
his confidence were his friends' children, to 
whom also the intrinsic charm of a little bit of 
silver must be taught. His devices in over- 



178 CONTEMPORARIES 

coming their scruples were varied and indeed 
endless. I have heard him say to one of them, 
" My dear, did you know that a toll has to be 
paid for every child who passes through this 
street ? " And when met by an anxious and 
wondering glance, he would persevere : " Yes ! 
it is true, it always must be paid, but it makes 
no difference who pays it ; you may pay it to 
me, or I will pay it to you. It will be the same 
thing. So you will have to take this quarter of 
a dollar, " — a sum which the child would then 
receive and bear away with a vague sense of 
that virtue which is its own reward. 

His humor was singularly spontaneous, and 
took oftenest the form of a droll picture cul- 
minating in a little dramatic scene in which he 
enacted all the parts. A grave discussion, for 
instance, as to the fact, often noticed, that 
men are apt to shorten in size as they grow 
older, suggested to him the probable working 
of this process in some vast period of time like 
the longevity of the Old Testament patriarchs. 
His busy fancy at once conjured up a picture 
of Methuselah in his literally declining years, 
when he had shrunk to be less than knee-high 
compared with an ordinary man. The patriarch 
is running about the room, his eyes streaming 
with tears. " What 's the matter, Thuse ? " 
says a benevolent stranger. " Why are you 



JOHN HOLMES 179 

crying ?" " I ain't crying," responds the aged 
patriarch, brushing away the drops. " It 's 
these plaguy shoestrings that keep getting 
into my eyes." Again, in answer to an inquiry 
about a child, I made some commonplace re- 
mark on the tormenting rapidity with which 
one's friends' children grow up, and he said 
eagerly : " That 's it ! That 's it ! It is always 
the way ! You meet an old friend, and say to 
her in a friendly manner, ' By the way, how 
is that little girl of yours ? ' and she answers, 
* Very well, I thank you. She is out in Kansas, 
visiting her grand-daughter.' " Did any other 
man ever concentrate four whole generations 
of human life into so brief a formula ? 

These odd fancies were never worked up 
in advance, rarely duplicated, often forgotten. 
You might tell him his own bits of humor six 
months after, and he would credit them to you, 
as your own. Often the fun consisted merely 
in an expression of surprise, a drawing up of 
the mouth, a shutting of the eyelids, so whim- 
sical that in any other hands the story would 
have failed. Such was one that he was some- 
times called upon to duplicate, where a young 
man at a party, having been served with tea 
and cake, and finding the tea too hot to drink, 
and no table near on which to rest it, seeks in 
vain to pour it into his saucer for cooling. He 



180 CONTEMPORARIES 

is unable to pour it, because of the piece of 
cake in his hand. At last a happy thought 
occurs to him. He will put the cake in his 
mouth, and leave his hands free. The tea is 
poured with success, and he is about to drink it, 
when it suddenly occurs to him that he still has 
the cake in his mouth, and is as far off as ever 
from relief. John Holmes's look of sudden 
despair and hopelessness, when the young man 
makes this discovery, is something which no 
one else could equal. Hopeless, also, was the 
attempt of any one else to render the look 
which he gave to the betrayed mother, when 
her boy, again and again replenished with ice- 
cream before company, still obtains new sup- 
plies by the threat, " If you don't give it to 
me, I '11 tell." On being finally met with re- 
fusal, he shouts forth to the embarrassed guests 
the awful domestic mystery, " My new breeches 
are made out of the old window curtains ! " 
Stories that in themselves were nothing rose 
to dramatic episodes when acted out by Holmes. 
Another of John Holmes's spontaneous dra- 
matic pictures was this. Something was said 
about the increasing number of students who 
failed to complete their undergraduate course 
in the accustomed four years, but had to be 
dropped from class to class before they could 
finish it. It was admitted that the number of 



JOHN HOLMES 181 

these unfortunates was increasing, and Holmes 
predicted without hesitation that a race of Har- 
vard students would be ultimately developed 
who would never get through at all, but might 
perhaps die at the age of ninety on the very day 
before Commencement, thus depriving the in- 
stitution of the glory of their final diploma. In 
his lively imagination, a group of President and 
Faculty was seen gathered around the bed of 
the aged man, imploring him to make the final 
effort necessary to hold out just one day longer. 
" Think," they said, " what an honor it would be 
to the university to have graduated you at last, 
and what a disappointment should you expire 
an undergraduate after all ! Rouse yourself ! 
Make one more effort ! Live until to-morrow, 
and die a Bachelor of Arts ! " 

John Holmes was an admirable mimic, which 
his brother Wendell was not, and he had a 
favorite story of a Yankee farmer of his ac- 
quaintance who used to preface a sentence by 
five different enunciations of the word " Well." 
The first would come lightly, as if finding the 
question trivial, " Well ! " The second more 
drawlingly, on beginning to see the importance 
of the matter, " We-ell ! " The third more drawl- 
ingly still, but solemnly, as if grappling medi- 
tatively with the whole extent of the subject, 
" We-e-ell ! " The next impatiently, relapsing 



182 CONTEMPORARIES 

into the vernacular and bringing the whole 
thing emphatically into the field of action, 
" Wal ! " — as if to be settled now or never. 
And then at last decisively, as if the case were 
made up, and no human power could overrule 
it, "Well!" 

This creative and dramatic quality of John 
Holmes's humor is vividly shown in his com- 
ment — made in a private letter to his friend 
John Bartlett — on the appendix to that gentle- 
man's well-known " Shakespeare Phrase Book," 
in which the careful editor gives by way of 
appendix eighty pages of "comparative read- 
ings," faithfully setting down all the Shake- 
spearean lines from various editors, preserved 
because rejected by him. Holmes thus por- 
trays the probable mental conflicts of his friend 
in deciding which reading to adopt, in each 
case, and which to assign to what he calls " the 
wastebasket : " — 

" I am glad that the brief episode of the 
wastebasket is attached to the magnum opus. 
The bold emancipation of the author from his 
own tyranny, the ferocious hurling of his work 
to apparent destruction, the savage exultation 
of the mob (of one), the calm resistance of the 
conservative party (of one), the return of the 
mob to reason and of the tyrant to power, when 
the outcast of the night before is raised and 



JOHN HOLMES 183 

hugged by the repentant populace, ... it is 
altogether an admirable dramatic arrangement, 
in which a terrific combination of tragic ele- 
ments (all that the supposed spectator can 
bear) suddenly culminates in wise resolution, 
unanimous action, and general happiness. Had 
not the insensate mob changed its mind, 

"'You had then left unseen a wonderful 
piece of work.' " 

To appreciate the following extract from 
Lowell's letters, it must be remembered that in 
the rural days of Cambridge the Holmes par- 
sonage and its surrounding acres constituted 
a considerable farm, with all the accompani- 
ments of garden lot, mowing lot, large barn, 
corn barn, horse stable, cow stable, and dog 
kennel. Lowell says in a letter (Letters, i. 
3 1 3), " Cambridge boasts of two distinguished 
farmers, John Holmes of Holmes Place, and 
him who would be, in the properly constituted 
order of things, the Marquess of Thompson Lot 
with a/." (This is Lowell himself, the char- 
acter being taken from a then favorite play 
of Toodles.) Lowell goes on : "The Marquess, 
fearing that (since Squire Holmes cultivated 
his own estate with his own hands and a camp 
stool) his rival might be in want of food and 
too proud to confess it, generously resolved to 
give him a dinner, which, to save his feelings, 



1 84 CONTEMPORARIES 

he adroitly veiled with the pretense of an agri- 
cultural festival and show of vegetables." In 
the subsequent narrative, the chairman gives 
the toast " Speed the Plough, " which is " ac- 
knowledged by Mr. Holmes in a neat speech ; " 
— but the speech as given is so thoroughly 
Lowell's, and so remote from Holmes, by reason 
of its multitude of poor but ingenious puns, 
that the personal Holmes evidently disappears 
from the scene. John Holmes's humor some- 
times, however, took the form of puns, but 
always with an apology, while Lowell never 
spared anything but the apology. 

Holmes was Lowell's favorite guest, and 
when he asks Howells in 1869 to eat roast pig 
with him on Saturday at half -past four p. m. — 
an abnormal dinner hour, now happily obsolete 
— he says to him : " Your commensals will be 
J. H. [John Holmes], Charles Storey [father of 
Moorfield Storey], and Professor [George M.] 
Lane, — all true blades who will sit till Monday 
morning, if needful. The pig is just ripe, and so 
tender that he would fall from his tail if lifted 
by it, like a mature cantaloupe from its stem " 
(Letters, i. 3 1 3). These were all clever men, 
and Lowell must have had his fill of that 
" Lambish quintessence of John " which he de- 
scribed in verse. Again on Christmas Day, 
1 876, Lowell writes : " I had expected my two 



JOHN HOLMES 185 

grandsons to dinner, but the weather will not 
let them run the risk, so I am to have my friend 
John Holmes (the best and most delightful of 
men) and a student whom I found to be without 
any chance at other than a dinner in Commons." 
It was but two or three times in John 
Holmes's life that he trusted himself in print, 
and here also he kept carefully on his own 
ground, — Old Cambridge. One may have faith- 
fully perused Lowell's delightful " Fireside Trav- 
els " without getting the very inmost glimpse 
of village life in the earlier Cambridge, unless 
he has also read John Holmes's " Harvard 
Square " in the Harvard Book. Here live again, 
for instance, " P. & S. Snow," the veteran oyster 
dealers whom Lowell has immortalized in de- 
licious rhyme ; but John Holmes's imagination 
goes beyond the dealers to the articles in which 
they dealt, and says of them, "The oysters 
seemed to know the brothers personally as old 
familiars of their element, and appeared satis- 
fied and serene when they saw who had forced 
their doors." Lowell speaks of the old First 
Church, but no one has ever described like 
Holmes the outlet given to youthful vivacity, 
even in Puritan strongholds, by the dropping 
of the pew seats. " The seats, which were in- 
dependent of one another, were made to fold 
back, that their occupants might find support 



186 CONTEMPORARIES 

against the wall or the side of the pew during 
the time of prayers, when, at that day, all stood 
up; and leaves, suspended on the side of the 
pew, which could be extended and supported 
by an appropriate pine rod, seemed to recall an 
older Puritan time, when taking notes was an 
important part of the exercises. When the 
seats were let down, at the close of prayer, 
the effect was much like that of the abrupt dis- 
charge of a load of boards from a cart, but with 
more numerous percussions. They were low- 
ered every way but quietly. Childhood was 
quick and energetic, age was slow, and between 
them were all modes of sublapsarianism. Per- 
haps they came down more violently after a 
very long prayer than at other times. It was a 
phenomenon, and the only one I recollect, at 
variance with the very strict decorum observed. 
It drew no attention whatever." 

Lowell himself has not described so graphi- 
cally as John Holmes the great colonial festival 
which the Harvard Commencement furnished 
in the middle of the eighteenth century. 

. . . "A day or two beforehand the agent, 
charged with that duty, measured the spaces 
on the Common allotted by the town for a con- 
sideration, to the occupants of tents, and scored 
the number of each in the sod. Grave citi- 
zens watched the numerals ; children circulated 



JOHN HOLMES 187 

their reports with increase. The popular test 
of Commencement was the number of tents 
erected. When the work of construction be- 
gan, fathers led out little children that they 
might themselves, without reproach, loiter near 
the delightful tumult. Selectmen are said to 
have hovered around the spot in a semi-official 
attitude. The inhabitants of the town, alive to 
their responsibility, prepared, and tradition says 
worthily, to bestow their hospitalities. And 
truly it was time to be up and doing. A man 
might pass the whole year, until Commence- 
ment, without knowing the number and value 
of his friends. Then everybody and everything 
turned up. A prodigal son, supposed on a 
voyage up the Straits, arrived on Monday by 
coaster from Chappequiddick, to eat the fatted 
calf. In the afternoon an unappreciated rela- 
tive, presumed to have perished in the late war, 
appeared with an appetite improved by open- 
air residence among the Indians. The more 
remote affinities at this period revealed their 
strength. On Tuesday, after the nearer rela- 
tives had arrived, there might drop in at even- 
ing a third cousin of a wife's half-brother from 
Agawam, or an uncle of a brother-in-law's step- 
sister from Contoocook, to re-knit the family 
ties. The runaway apprentice, who was ready 
to condone offenses and accept hospitality, was 



188 CONTEMPORARIES 

referred to the barn, as well as the Indian from 
Mr. Wheelock's Seminary, whose equipment 
was an Indian catechism and a bow and arrow, 
with which latter he expected to turn a fugitive 
penny by shooting at a mark on the morrow. 
The wayward boy, over whose watery grave 
Mr. Sam Stedman had so many times fired his 
long ducking-gun (cannon being scarce in those 
days), returned from a truant visit to his uncle 
on the 'New Hampshire Grants' [Vermont]. 
The College sloop, that shadowy craft which 
floats in time indefinitely, always arrived in 
time for the floodtide on Tuesday. The Water- 
town lighter was uniformly driven ashore on 
Tuesday evening by the perils of the seas ; that 
is, by the strong current that prevailed in the 
river about Commencement time. The captain 
and crew, like judicious men, made it a point to 
improve their minds while detained and always 
attended the literary exercises on the Common." 
We may be sure that John Holmes describes 
in full the Commencement procession of 1750 
and its accompanying services : " The sober 
academic colors were relieved by occasional 
gold-laced hats and coats, by a sprinkling of his 
Majesty's uniforms, and by the scores of silver 
shoe-buckles which glistened in the sun at every 
footstep, to the delight of the public and of the 
wearers of them. . . . The President occupied 



JOHN HOLMES 189 

the pulpit, and the Governor the great chair in 
front ; the rest, with mutual congees, self-sac- 
rificing offers, and deprecatory acceptances of 
seats, distributed themselves on the stage. The 
cocked hats were hung on the brass-headed 
nails which lined the beams projecting from 
the wall between the pulpit and the galleries. 
. . . The [Latin] Salutatory goes off brilliantly, 
— that is to say, nobody seems depressed by it ; 
the audience chats in a lively manner. A Latin 
thesis is called for, which goes rather heavily, 
but is relieved by the arrival of old Judge 
Trowbridge, who comes up the outside stairs, 
and with multiplied attentions is seated on the 
stage. He is the most famous recondite old 
lawyer in the Province, and has lost himself in 
a lucubration this morning so as to forget the 
time. Another Latin thesis is helped off by a 
row at the west door of the church, at the sound 
of which young James Winthrop slips out and 
witnesses the victory of the ' constable and six 
men ' over two drunken English sailors." 

In describing the Commencement dinner of 
the same period, Holmes draws a new and un- 
expected moral from the creation of the mos- 
quito. "There was," he says, "no great 
affinity between the English gentleman, or 
courtier, of that day and the average New Eng- 
land colonist. . . . Two topics, under these cir- 



190 CONTEMPORARIES 

cumstances, did excellent sendee, — the heat of 
to-day and the mosquitoes of last night. On 
these points there was a cordial unanimity, with 
an amount of circumstantial difference that ex- 
tended the conversation most profitably. The 
patient who tosses and kicks under the lancet 
of the mosquito, or, worse, listens to his hum, 
as he selects the spot for puncture, is not in 
a mood for reflection. Let him, however, re- 
member that the torment of the night will be- 
come a social medium on the morrow to draw 
him nearer friends and soften his relation to 
strangers." 

In those days there was, in the afternoon, a 
separate series of addresses and a separate pro- 
cession. "The afternoon audience, we may 
suppose, was largely composed of those who 
attend everything on principle. All reasonable 
people were now in a blissful state. The ex- 
cellent Dr. Appleton, the minister of the par- 
ish, walking in the afternoon procession, smiled 
unconsciously on the collective license of the 
crowd. The rough village doctor, though wit- 
nessing the abominable breach of hygienic law 
everywhere, felt the cheering influence of the 
day, and his old mare with perplexity missed 
half her usual allowance of cowhide. The dry, 
skeptical village lawyer, returned from his din- 
ner at Miss Chadbourne's to his dusty office in 



JOHN HOLMES 191 

his best mood, prepared to deny everything ad- 
vanced by anybody, and demand proof. On 
the Common, the Natick Indians, having made 
large gain by their bows and arrows, proceeded 
to a retired spot, and silently and successfully 
achieved the process of inebriation." 

For one to whom the past was thus vivid, it 
might seem that the present must be shadowy 
in comparison ; yet the latest visitor, the most 
recent passer-by, was to him a figure equally 
animated ; nor was any picture of past or pre- 
sent so characteristic and original, after all, as 
was the inexhaustibly fertile mind from which 
it came. It is this which gives to those who 
knew John Holmes a sense of loss so unique 
and irreparable. Men and events will come and 
go, but we shall no longer listen to hear what 
he will say about them ; it is as if the art of 
instantaneous photography had perished with 
its inventor. 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 

" Were I to be required to say, in one word, what is the system of 
Nature, I should say — Variety." 

Dr. Harris to Edward Newman, 1844. 

One of the ablest of American botanists, 
Edward Tuckerman, writes in respect to Dr. 
Harris : " Of other genuine naturalists I have 
read, but he is the only one I ever knew." 
This is hardly too strong a statement of the 
loyalty entertained toward this eminent man by 
those who had the privilege of being his pupils 
in natural history. In him there lived for us 
the very spirit of Linnaeus, or whatever name 
best represents the simplest and purest type of 
the naturalist. The personal attachment thus 
won, the healthy influence thus exerted, and 
the slow and gradual recognition of the merit 
of his methods are a form of success more con- 
genial to the temperament of Dr. Harris than 
would have been any more immediate and su- 
perficial applauses. 

Thaddeus William Harris was born in Dor- 
chester, Mass., November 12, 1795. He was 
the son of Thaddeus Mason Harris, D. D., and 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 193 

Mary (Dix) Harris. The elder Dr. Harris was 
a native of Charlestown, Mass., born in 1768, 
graduated at Harvard College in 1787, and was 
librarian of that institution from 1791 to 1793. 
He left that position to be ordained over the 
First Congregational Church in Dorchester, 
where he remained until within a few years of 
his death, which occurred in 1842. I remem- 
ber in my boyhood the little quaint old man, 
bent almost incredibly, but still wearing a hale 
aspect, who used to haunt the alcoves of the 
old library in Harvard Hall. It was rumored 
among us that he had once been appointed pri- 
vate secretary to Washington, but had resigned 
from illness ; and it was known that he was 
arranging and indexing for Mr. Sparks the one 
hundred and thirty-two manuscript volumes of 
Washington's correspondence. He was not 
without his poetic laurels, too, since it was 
whispered that he had composed for Edward 
Everett's youthful recitation the verses, — 

" You 'd scarce expect one of my age 
To speak in public on the stage." 

He was, moreover, a learned antiquarian and 
divine, and had come to natural history by a 
strictly professional path ; for besides his pro- 
per harvest of fifty-eight occasional sermons, 
and seventeen other publications, 1 he had found 

1 See a list of them in an admirable memoir of the elder 



194 CONTEMPORARIES 

time for an elaborate " Natural History of the 
Bible," which was published in 1820, and long 
remained a standard work, both here and in 
Europe. It aimed to describe and identify 
every animal, plant, and precious stone men- 
tioned in Scripture ; and must have evolved, on 
many of these points, enough of minute inves- 
tigation to enlist the whole family in the work. 
And as Mrs. Harris was at the same period a 
diligent rearer of silkworms, and supplied her- 
self for ten years with sewing-silk from their 
labors, it is evident that natural history must 
have been a topic of habitual household inter- 
est. It is certain that at this time (1820), the 
younger Dr. Harris began his permanent col- 
lection of insects. 

He entered Harvard College in 181 1, in his 
sixteenth year, and graduated, with respectable 
rank, in 181 5. One of his classmates describes 
him as "a timid, sensitive, rather nervous and 
recluse youth," who was not at that time con- 
spicuous for his love of natural history. There 
was a college society, called first the " Lavoise- 
rian," and then the " Hermetic," for the study 
of natural philosophy, and especially of chemis- 
try. It is very probable that Dr. Harris was 
inclined to this last study, as he was appointed, 

Dr. Harris, by N. L. Frothingham, D. D., in the Mass. Hist 
Coll., 4th series, II. 130. 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 195 

some years after his graduation, a member of 
the Examining Committee in that department. 
The college afforded no direct instruction in 
natural history at that time, except in the lec- 
tures of Professor W. D. Peck. These were 
accessible by a special fee, and do not seem to 
have left a very palatable impression on those 
who heard them. Dr. Harris, however, attrib- 
utes to Dr. Peck his first interest in his favorite 
study. " It was this early and much esteemed 
friend who first developed my taste for ento- 
mology, and stimulated me to cultivate it." 
This probably refers, however, not to college 
days, but to a renewal of intercourse with the 
professor, about 1820. Professor Peck died 
two years later, and his manuscripts were sub- 
mitted for examination to the two Doctors Har- 
ris, who reported adversely to the publication, 
finding them apparently correct and faithful, 
but a little behind the times. Yet Professor 
Peck was reputed a man of real science in his 
day, and a recommendation of him by Sir Jo- 
seph Banks used to be quoted. His only memo- 
rial now remains in the baptismal name of one 
minute insect, the Xenos Peckii of Kirby, which 
as being at that time the only species of its 
genus, and the only genus of its order, repre- 
sented in a certain degree the very aristocracy 
of science. 



196 CONTEMPORARIES 

After his graduation Dr. Harris devoted him- 
self to the study of medicine, took his medical 
degree in 1820, and entered on the practice of 
his profession at Milton, in connection with Dr. 
Amos Holbrook, whose daughter (Catherine) 
he afterwards married. Dr. Holbrook was an 
eminent practitioner in his day, being vice-presi- 
dent of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and 
corresponding member of several foreign asso- 
ciations. After two or three years, Dr. Harris 
took an office for himself in Dorchester village, 
near Milton Lower Mills. I do not know how 
far he became really attached to his profession ; 
he never refers to it in his correspondence, and 
seems to have entirely quitted it after his aca- 
demical appointment, except when he once took 
for a few weeks the practice of Dr. Plympton, 
during the illness of that well - known Cam- 
bridge physician. It was while he was a resi- 
dent of Milton and Dorchester that the greater 
part of his outdoor researches in entomology 
must have been made. Yet he wrote to Pro- 
fessor Hentz (June 5, 1829), that he "had but 
very little time to devote to the study of in- 
sects." " My leisure moments," he adds, "are 
principally employed in collecting and preserv- 
ing such as I can discover, in order to replenish 
my cabinet of duplicates." For this reason, 
and from pecuniary anxieties, it is evident that 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 197 

he was quite ready to contemplate a change of 
residence. For instance, when Professor Hentz 
was about taking a professorship in an Alabama 
university, Dr. Harris was evidently not indis- 
posed to go with him. He wrote March 25, 
1829 : — 

"As to the intimation respecting a profes- 
sor's chair, I can but repeat what I once men- 
tioned, that my qualifications are not adequate ; 
but if the climate should admit, I could pre- 
pare myself for the department of obstetrics 
or materia medica. Some experience for ten 
years in the former, and my knowledge of bot- 
any, and necessary acquaintance with the ma- 
nipulation of drugs, would not render it difficult 
to attain, in a short time, a tolerable knowledge 
of either of these branches." 

Two months later (June 5, 1829) he wrote to 
the same friend : — 

" I am very desirous to learn the issue of 
your contemplated change of place. Such are 
the embarrassments and anxieties of my pre- 
sent situation, that your hints in regard to 
myself would receive serious consideration,— 
especially if the climate, the professional de- 
partment, and the emolument should coincide 
with my wishes. You may not know that my 
friends endeavored, some time ago, to procure 
for me an appointment as librarian at Harvard 



198 CONTEMPORARIES 

University, a situation which would have suited 
me exactly ; but unfortunately the place was 
pre-engaged." 

This refers, doubtless, to the appointment of 
Mr. Benjamin Peirce to the librarian ship in 
1 826. It would appear from this that Dr. Har- 
ris had for some time looked with hope to this 
appointment, which he finally received in 1831, 
on the death of Mr. Peirce. It would also ap- 
pear that he found the librarianship attractive 
for its own sake, and not (as it was perhaps 
viewed by some of his friends) as a stepping- 
stone toward a professorship of natural history. 
Be this as it may, he accepted the post, and 
held it during the remaining twenty-five years 
of his life. 

No doubt he looked forward with delight to 
the change. The librarian's salary was low, but 
the dignity and permanence of the new post 
must have appeared in agreeable contrast to 
the struggle for life of a country physician, 
whose very acquirements as a naturalist may 
have impeded his professional career. Then 
the methodical and accurate habits of Dr. Har- 
ris promised to make the daily routine of duty 
agreeable ; he had a genuine love of antiqua- 
rian research, though always kept under by 
the greater attractions of natural science ; and 
he might reasonably hope for many books and 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 199 

some leisure. In both he was disappointed ; 
of leisure he had almost none, and of books no 
liberal supply. The library at the time of his 
accession numbered but about thirty thousand 
volumes, though he left it swelled to sixty-five 
thousand. Its means of increase were then ex- 
ceedingly small, and the great cost of works on 
natural history precluded much investment in 
that direction. 

Dr. Harris was appointed ere long to a quasi- 
scientific post in the college, in addition to his 
librarianship. The professorship of natural his- 
tory was at this time vacant for want of funds, 
and Dr. Augustus A. Gould gave, until 1837, 
an annual course of lectures on this subject to 
the senior class. On his resignation, Dr. Harris 
took his place and had charge of that depart- 
ment from February 16, 1837, till the appoint- 
ment of a permanent professor in 1842. I was 
fortunate enough to be among his pupils. There 
were exercises twice a week, which included 
recitations in Smellie's " Philosophy of Natural 
History," with occasional elucidations and fa- 
miliar lectures by Dr. Harris. There were also 
special lectures on botany. This was the only 
foothold which natural history had then secured 
in what we hopefully called the "university." 
Even these scanty lessons were, if I rightly re- 
member, a voluntary affair ; we had no "marks " 



200 CONTEMPORARIES 

for attendance, and no demerits for absence, 
and they were thus to a merely ambitious stu- 
dent a waste of time, so far as college rank 
was concerned. Still they proved so interest- 
ing that Dr. Harris formed, in addition, a pri- 
vate class in entomology, to which I also be- 
longed. It included about a dozen young men 
from different college classes, who met on one 
evening of every week at the room where our 
teacher kept his cabinet, in Massachusetts Hall. 
These were very delightful exercises, accord- 
ing to my recollection, though we never got be- 
yond the Coleoptera. Dr. Harris was so simple 
and eager, his tall, spare form and thin face 
took on such a glow and freshness, he dwelt 
so lovingly on antennae and tarsi, and handled 
so fondly his little insect-martyrs, that it was 
enough to make one love this study for life, be- 
yond all branches of natural science, and I am 
sure that it had that effect on me. 

As one fruit of these lessons, several of us 
undertook, during the following year, to ar- 
range for the Harvard Natural History Society 
its collection of insects, then very much aug- 
mented, and only partially arranged by my pre- 
decessor in the Curatorship of Entomology, 
Henry Bryant, since well known to the world 
of science. This task kept us in contact with 
Dr. Harris ; we had the aid of his cabinet in 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 201 

identifying the species ; but the more we used 
this ready assistance, the more profound became 
the wonder how Dr. Harris himself had identi- 
fied them. There were no manuals, no descrip- 
tions, no figures accessible to us ; even in the 
college library there were only a few books on 
tropical insects, and a few vast encyclopaedias, 
which appeared to hold everything but what 
was wanted. It seemed as if a special flight 
of insects must have come to Dr. Harris from 
the skies, all ready pinned and labeled. Older 
heads than ours were equally perplexed, and 
the mystery was never fairly solved until after 
the death of our dear preceptor, and the trans- 
fer of his cabinet and papers to the Boston 
Society of Natural History. 

It was then apparent by what vast labor Dr. 
Harris had compiled for himself the literary 
apparatus of his scientific study. A mass of 
manuscript books, systematized with French 
method, but written in the clearest of English 
handwriting, show how he opened his way 
through the mighty maze of authorities. First 
comes, for instance, a complete systematic 
index to the butterflies described by Godart and 
Latreille, in the Encyclopedic Methodique. 
Every genus or species is noted, with authority, 
reference, and synonyms, — the notes being 
then rearranged alphabetically and pasted into 



202 CONTEMPORARIES 

a volume, perhaps three thousand titles in all. 
This was done in 1835. 

Then comes a similar compilation of the 
Coleoptera from Olivier ; twenty foolscap pages, 
giving genus, species, locality, and even measure- 
ments, to the fraction of an inch. Then there 
are three manuscript volumes containing an 
index to the four volumes of Cramer's " Papil- 
lons Exotiques ; " one devoted to Stoll's " Sup- 
plement," and two to Hiibner's "Exotische 
Schmetterlinge." For Drury's " Illustrations 
of Natural History" there are two of these 
elaborate indices, made at different periods ; 
one based on the original edition in 1770-73, 
and the other on Westwood's reprint of 1837. 
So beautifully executed is all this laborious 
work, that it is still as easily accessible as print, 
though the earlier sheets are yellow and torn. 
The Natural History Society thus possesses not 
merely the results of Dr. Harris's researches, 
but the very tools which he himself forged for 
their prosecution. 

This immense preliminary labor always 
brings with it some compensation to the iso- 
lated explorer, in the thorough drill it implies. 
"Writing maketh an exact man." But the per- 
son who will undertake such labor is generally 
exact by nature, and Dr. Harris, at any rate, 
needed no such drudgery to fit him for the 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 203 

higher work of science. Yet there is an in- 
estimable moral in his labor for our younger 
generation of savants, and the saying of Rivarol 
that " genius is only great patience " had never 
a better illustration. 

In this destitution of books and cabinets, 
there was another compensation which gave to 
Dr. Harris a more practical satisfaction. The 
conditions of a new country, implying these 
drawbacks, imply also a great wealth of mate- 
rial. In older countries it is rare to discover a 
new species ; it is something to detect even a 
new habitat. But these lonely American ento- 
mologists seem, as one reads their correspond- 
ence, like so many scientific Robinson Crusoes, 
each with the insect-wealth of a new island at 
his disposal. They are monarchs of all they 
survey. With what affluence they exhibit their 
dozens of undescribed species ; with what auto- 
cratic power they divide and recombine genera ! 
How ardently writes Hentz to Harris, " Oh ! 
why must we live at such a distance from each 
other? What pleasures we might enjoy to- 
gether." Or, " Mourn no longer for the single- 
ness or solitude of your Amphicoma vulpina ! 
I have found another." Yet they were richer 
for the loneliness, and perhaps it was better 
that Massachusetts and Carolina, even in scien- 
tific jurisdiction, should remain at a reasonable 



204 CONTEMPORARIES 

distance. Had these students shared one en- 
tomological region, they would have had less 
wealth to interchange. 

Nothing among the papers of Dr. Harris con- 
tains so much of his scientific biography as a 
letter written by him to Dr. D. H. Storer of 
Boston, from which I shall therefore take ample 
extracts. 

Cambridge, November 2, 1836. 

Dear Sir : Your kind note will cause you the 
trouble of reading a long answer, if indeed you 
can spare the time to do so. My plans are by no 
means so nearly matured as you seem to imagine, 
nor indeed is there any very great chance of the 
object of my wishes being speedily accomplished. 
The want of a manual of American entomology 
struck me very forcibly fifteen years ago, when 
I was turning some of my attention to the 
study of insects, and this want greatly impeded 
my progress. There were then very few per- 
sons who paid any attention to entomology in 
this country ; none of them, excepting Professor 
Peck, were then known to me ; and the infor- 
mation which I could have gathered from him 
was suddenly lost to me by his death. Some- 
time afterwards I became known to Mr. Say 
through our mutual acquaintance, Professor 
Nuttall, and a correspondence was continued, at 
protracted intervals it is true, between us till his 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 205 

decease. I often urged Mr. Say to prepare a 
manual which would serve for American in- 
sects, as Pursh's Flora and Eaton's Manual did 
for plants, and he assured me that he was col- 
lecting materials for the purpose. The de- 
scribing of an immense number of new or sup- 
posed new species occupied all the time that 
he could give to entomology, and I do not find 
among his papers anything like an outline or 
commencement of the desired work. 

In the meanwhile I had formed the idea of a 
local fauna insectortim y which should include 
only the species common in this vicinity, and I 
began to write descriptions of these species, 
but found myself embarrassed for the want of 
books. This difficulty rather increased, or ap- 
peared of more importance, as my knowledge 
of species was enlarged, and I soon found my- 
self in possession of a very large number of 
insects, which could not, with any propriety, be 
arranged in any of the genera described in my 
books. To supply myself with all the works 
necessary for determining these species and re- 
ducing them to their proper genera, required a 
much larger sum of money than I could com- 
mand, and I have been compelled to wait even 
till this time without having my wants in this re- 
spect supplied. In the meanwhile some of my de- 
scriptions were published in the " New England 



206 % CONTEMPORARIES 

Farmer," and the series would have been con- 
tinued there if I could have hoped to excite any 
interest in the science among those who had 
the power, if not the inclination, to aid it. 

The lectures which I was called upon to de- 
liver before the Natural History Society in 
Boston gave a different direction to my studies 
for a while ; but about that time I wrote an 
introduction, or rather made something like a 
systematic abstract from the scientific part 
of Kirby and Spence's Entomology on the 
subject of the external anatomy, transforma- 
tions, and different states of insects, which I 
supposed it would be necessary to prefix to my 
local fauna. Additions to this and to the de- 
scriptive part of the contemplated work have 
been made at subsequent periods, but still a 
large part of the labor remains to be done. I 
have no idea how large a book it would make 
when finished, nor do I see any prospect of- 
my being able at present to finish it and indeed 
I have nearly abandoned all hope of bringing it 
to a successful termination. 

The difficulties met with, at length led me 
to think of some means of making entomo- 
logy popular, and I looked to the young as the 
proper subjects to begin with. With the hope 
that by exciting a taste among children for 
this branch of natural history, the parents 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 207 

might become interested also, I have rewritten 
my introduction in plain and simple language, 
divested as much as possible of all hard words, 
and intend to add to it brief descriptions of 
some of our most common insects. This you 
may think is small business, but I hope it may 
at least be useful and entertaining to those for 
whom it is intended. 

Dr. Pickering of Philadelphia some months 
ago urged me to undertake a synopsis of Amer- 
ican insects, and said so much on this subject 
that I was induced to take his proposition seri- 
ously into consideration. I then wrote to him 
that if he would examine Say's insects for me, 
and answer such inquiries as I might find ne- 
cessary to make respecting the species con- 
tained in his cabinet, I would undertake to 
make "a descriptive catalogue of the insects 
named in the second edition of Professor Hitch- 
cock's Report on the Geology, etc., of Massa- 
chusetts," but I could promise nothing more - 
for I was determined not to undertake to de- 
scribe any insects but those which I had before 
my own eyes. Hereupon Dr. Pickering obtained 
leave of the Academy of Natural Sciences to 
send me the whole of Say's collections, only 
stipulating that I should put them in good 
order, and return them in a condition to be 
preserved after I had examined and arranged 



208 CONTEMPORARIES 

them. They arrived about the middle of July, 
but on examination were found to be in a de- 
plorable condition, most of the pins having be- 
come loose, the labels detached, and the insects 
themselves without heads, antennae, and legs, or 
devoured by destructive larvae, and ground to 
powder by the perilous shakings which they 
had received in their transportation from New 
Harmony. This irremediable destruction has 
in great measure defeated my expectation of 
deriving benefit from examining the specimens 
and comparing them with those in my own col- 
lection, and in that of Professor Hentz. . . . 

Mr. Hentz's collection of insects is a most 
capital and valuable one ; it proves on exam- 
ination to be far better than I had a?iticipated. 
I am sorely disappointed and mortified in not 
having been able to raise subscriptions enough 
to pay for it, and for the beautiful and useful 
works of Olivier and Voet which accompanied it. 

In spite of the closing sentence of this letter, 
it appears that the books and cabinet of Pro- 
fessor Hentz were finally paid for (the price 
being $1350), though mainly through the per- 
sonal efforts of Dr. Harris. Professor Hentz 
was of French birth, but American by adop- 
tion, and it is surprising to find that his name 
does not occur in our encyclopaedias, except in 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 209 

connection with his wife, well known as a nov- 
elist. He has not even the meagre mention 
which these works assign to those other pio- 
neers of American entomology, Say and the 
elder Le Conte. They, with Melsheimer, were 
the early compeers of Dr. Harris, whether they 
were or were not his peers ; while his chief aid 
in collecting seems to have come from his friend 
and classmate, Rev. L. W. Leonard of Dublin, 
N. H. In truth, the number who seriously ap- 
plied themselves to this science, in those days, 
might almost have been counted upon one's 
fingers. His foreign correspondence, when it 
came, gave more substantial assistance, and I 
especially remember the zeal aroused in Cam- 
bridge by the visit of Mr. Edward Doubleday. 

Yet the society of accomplished foreign nat- 
uralists perhaps made Dr. Harris feel his own 
loneliness the more. He writes (September 
23, 1839) to Mr. Doubleday: — 

" You have never, and can never know what 
it is to be alone in your pursuits, to want the 
sympathy and the aid and counsel of kindred 
spirits ; you are not compelled to pursue sci- 
ence as it were by stealth, and to feel all the 
time, while so employed, that you are exposing 
yourself if discovered to the ridicule, perhaps, 
at least to the contempt, of those who cannot 
perceive in such pursuits any practical and use- 



210 CONTEMPORARIES 

f ul results. But such has been my lot, — and 
you can therefore form some idea how grateful 
to my feelings must be the privilege of an in- 
terchange of views and communication with the 
more favored votaries of science in another 
land." 

Dr. Harris prepared his catalogues of insects 
as laboriously as he made his indices of books. 
They were made on the plan of the card cata- 
logues now used in libraries, upon uniform 
pieces of paper, three or four inches square, 
which he afterwards tied in bundles and care- 
fully labeled. Each card contained the name 
of the insect, with synonyms and authorities, 
and the number it bore in his catalogue, — but 
no description. Mr. Say's collection was cata- 
logued by Dr. Harris in the same manner. 
Most of this sort of work was apparently done 
in 1837, and all these manuscripts are in pos- 
session of the Boston Society. This institution 
also holds copies of almost all his entomological 
letters, transcribed with a neatness and clear- 
ness peculiarly his own. 

His entomological cabinet — of which he 
wrote to Mr. Westermann, February 22, 1842, 
" My collection is not only the best, but the 
only general one of North American insects in 
this country" — is now in possession of the 
same association. He wrote of this cabinet to 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 211 

Mr. C. J. Ward of Ohio, March 8, 1837, as fol- 
lows : — 

" My object in making a collection, and for 
this purpose asking the aid of my friends, has 
not been merely personal gratification ; it has 
been my desire to add something to the cause 
of science in this country. . . . Even should 
death surprise me before the results of my 
labors are before the public, I shall leave an 
extensive, well arranged and named collection, 
which, from the care bestowed upon it, will be 
in a condition for preservation, and will remain 
as a standard of comparison when I am gone. 
You will judge of the importance and value of 
such a collection when I assure you that Mr. 
Say's cabinet does not contain one half of the 
species which he has described ; of the insects 
in it, many are without names, and all more or 
less mutilated, and so badly preserved that most 
of them are now absolutely worthless." 

The value thus claimed for this collection 
is not too great. The delicate and systematic 
care with which Dr. Harris preserved his in- 
sects has secured for them a permanent useful- 
ness. It is well known that no class of speci- 
mens in natural history requires such watchful 
pains. Almost all his American insects remain 
labeled and arranged as he left them, thus fix- 
ing firmly and indisputably every step he made 



212 CONTEMPORARIES 

in their classification. His foreign collection 
was almost ruined before it came into posses- 
sion of the Natural History Society, and that 
of Professor Hentz was long since almost to- 
tally destroyed. 

Yet with all this care in his indoor labors, no 
man knew better than Dr. Harris that the best 
work of a naturalist must be done out of doors. 
He had few leisure hours, and even the blessed 
summer vacation must be largely devoted to the 
annual examination of the dusty library. But 
his minute observations on insect transforma- 
tion still remain something extraordinary, and 
many an experienced entomologist has won- 
dered how or where Dr. Harris traced from the 
egg the varied forms of some little insect which 
others hardly knew in its completeness. His 
rare skill with the pencil aided him in this work, 
as in his studies of classification. As he learned 
to classify butterflies by drawing the nervures 
of their wings, so he fixed by copying each suc- 
cessive stage of development. His excursions, 
too, though rare, were effectual ; he had the quick 
step, the roving eye and the prompt fingers of 
a born naturalist ; he could convert his um- 
brella into a net, and his hat into a collecting- 
box ; he prolonged his quest into the night with 
a lantern, and into November by searching be- 
neath the bark of trees. Every great discovery 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 213 

was an occasion for enthusiasm, and it seemed 
the climax of his life when he found for the 
first time, on August 5, 1840, the larvae of the 
southern butterfly, Papilio Philenor, on a shrub 
in the Botanic Garden. 1 He had previously 
written of it to Hentz — February 18, 1838 
— that "this insect must belong to a type of 
which there is no other in the United States." 
I very well remember that he gave me one of 
his few specimens, and when I deposited the 
lovely butterfly in the cabinet of the Harvard 
Natural History Society, I felt as if I had 
founded a professorship. 

But the zeal of Dr. Harris was not confined 
to entomology ; it extended to all branches of 
zoology, and to botany, too. Indeed, this was 
his favorite study next to that of insects, and 
he left in manuscript an elaborate monograph of 
the natural order Cucurbitaceae. I remember 
the perennial eagerness with which he urged 
upon us, each spring, to rediscover the Coral- 
lorhiza verna in a certain field near the Obser- 
vatory. It had been found there once, and once 
only, by my classmate, Dr. Woodward. It had 
certainly been found — and yet it seemed im- 
probable that it should have been found, and it 
was never found again, — and Dr. Harris's eyes 
would always kindle when the little flower was 

!See p. 147 following. 



214 CONTEMPORARIES 

mentioned, and he would ponder, and debate, 
and state over and over again the probabilities 
and improbabilities, and discuss the possibility 
of some error in the precise location, and draw 
little plans of that field and the adjoining fields, 
and urge us on to the pursuit or cheer us when 
drooping and defeated, until it seemed as if the 
quest after the Holy Grail was a thing insignifi- 
cant and uninspiring compared with the search 
for that plain little orchid. This was the true 
spirit of the observer, — appreciation of the un- 
speakable value of a fact. 

Still the certainty remains that for all pro- 
ductive purposes of natural history the last 
fifteen years of his life yielded constantly less 
and less. Genius works many miracles, but 
it cannot secure leisure for science to a man 
who has twelve children, no private means, and 
the public library of a university to administer. 
As the library grew larger, his opportunities 
grew less, and it is pathetic to read in his cor- 
respondence the gradual waning of his hopes of 
release. 

The Professorship of Natural History in the 
University, which had remained vacant for want 
of funds since 1834, was filled (April 20, 1842) 
by the appointment of Dr. Asa Gray. During 
this interval the duties of the department had 
been partly discharged by Dr. Harris, and it 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 215 

was inevitable that he and his friends should 
indulge a hope of his permanent appointment. 
The matter was the subject of much conversa- 
tion at the time, and is several times mentioned 
in his more familiar correspondence. It was 
fortunate that the very eminent claims of Dr. 
Gray, and the especial propriety of selecting a 
botanist to take charge of the Botanical Gar- 
den, relieved the appointment from all appear- 
ance of discourtesy to Dr. Harris. But all lovers 
of science must regret that no way was found of 
securing for its exclusive benefit the maturity 
of a naturalist so gifted. 

In spite of all obstacles, Dr. Harris always 
contributed very largely to scientific, agricul- 
tural, and other periodicals, and a catalogue 
of these papers — more or less complete — is 
appended to the volume of his letters edited 
by Dr. S. H. Scudder. He prepared in 1831 
the catalogue of insects appended to Hitch- 
cock's Massachusetts Geological Report. In 
the condition of American science at that day, 
it was a work of inestimable value, though his 
only material compensation was one copy of 
the Report and several copies of the Appendix. 
At a later period he was appointed by the State 
as one of a scientific commission for a more 
thorough geological and botanical survey. In 
this capacity he prepared his " Report on In- 



216 CONTEMPORARIES 

sects Injurious to Vegetation," first published 
in 1 84 1, reprinted by himself under the name of 
"Treatise," instead of " Report," in 1842, and 
again in a revised form in 1852. The whole 
sum received by him, from the State, for this 
labor, was one hundred and seventy-five dollars. 
After his death the book was reprinted by the 
State in an admirable form, with engravings, and 
it is upon it that his scientific reputation will 
mainly rest. 

Dr. Harris died on the 16th of January, 1856, 
at the age of sixty. His life, with whatever 
disappointments and drawbacks, must not be 
regarded as a sad one. It was certainly a great 
loss both to himself and the world that the 
maturity of his powers should have been given 
to anything but natural history ; yet the work 
which was assigned him was not uncongenial, 
except by comparison. As he could not be 
wholly a naturalist, he found enjoyment in be- 
ing a librarian. His father had held the same 
office, almost to the year of his own birth, and 
he seemed born with the librarian's instinct for 
alcoves and pamphlets and endless genealogies. 
He had in preparation a very elaborate genea- 
logical history of the Mason family, and was 
often consulted as an expert upon such mat- 
ters. He kept his official records with exquisite 
accuracy, and described his methods to other 



THADDEUS WILLIAM HARRIS 217 

librarians as lovingly as if he were describing a 
chrysalis. To that, indeed, the college library 
of those days had much resemblance. 

The steady growth of Dr. Harris's reputa- 
tion is not due alone to his position as pioneer 
in American science during its barest period. 
It has grown because he proves to have united 
qualities that are rare in any period. He com- 
bined a fidelity that never shrank from the 
most laborious details with an intellectual ac- 
tivity that always looked beyond details to 
principles. No series of observations made 
by him ever needed revision or verification by 
another ; and yet his mind always looked in- 
stinctively towards classification and generali- 
zation. He had also those scientific qualities 
which are moral qualities as well ; he had the 
modesty and unselfishness of science, and he 
had what may be called its chivalry. He would 
give whole golden days of his scanty summer 
vacations to arranging and labeling the collec- 
tions of younger entomologists. And it roused 
all the wrath of which his soul was capable 
when even a rival was wronged, as when De- 
jean ignored Say's descriptions because he had 
not learned English enough to read them. 

I remember his once holding up to us, as 
the true type of a scientific reputation, that of 
Robert Brown, supreme among botanists, yet 



218 CONTEMPORARIES 

unknown even by name to all the world beside. 
More fortunate than Robert Brown, Dr. Harris 
combined with this high aristocracy of science 
a peculiar capacity of practical application, and 
has left a rare example of the scientific and the 
popular spirit in one. 



A VISIT TO JOHN BROWN'S HOUSE- 
HOLD IN 1859 1 

The traveler into the enchanted land of the 
Adirondacks has his choice of two routes from 
Keeseville to the Lower Saranac Lake, where 
his outdoor life is to begin. The one least fre- 
quented and most difficult should be selected, 
for it has the grandest mountain pass that 
the Northern States can show. After driving 
twenty-two miles of mountain road from Keese- 
ville, past wild summits bristling with stumps, 
and through villages where every other man is 
black from the iron foundry, and every alter- 
nate one black from the charcoal pit, your path- 
way makes a turn at the little hamlet of Wil- 
mington, and you soon find yourself facing a 
wall of mountain, with only glimpses of one 
wild gap, through which you must penetrate. 
In two miles more you have passed the last 
house this side the Notch, and you then drive 
on over a rugged way, constantly ascending, 
with no companion but the stream which rip- 
ples and roars below. Soon the last charcoal 

1 Reprinted without alteration from Redpath's Life of 
Captain John Brown, 1859. 



220 CONTEMPORARIES 

clearing is past, and thick woods of cedar and 
birch close around you : the high mountain on 
your right comes nearer and nearer, and close 
beside, upon your left, are glimpses of a wall, 
black and bare as iron, rising sheer for four 
hundred feet above your head. Coming from 
the soft marble country of Vermont, and from 
the pale granite of Massachusetts, there seems 
something weird and forbidding in this utter 
blackness. On your left the giant wall now 
appears nearer — now retreats again ; on your 
right foams the merry stream, breaking into 
graceful cascades — and across it the great 
mountain Whiteface, seamed with slides. Now 
the woods upon your left are displaced by the 
wall, almost touching the roadside ; against its 
steep abruptness scarcely a shrub can cling, 
scarcely a fern flutter — it takes your breath 
away ; but five miles of perilous driving con- 
duct you through it ; and beyond this stern 
passway, this cave of iron, lie the lovely lakes 
and mountains of the Adirondacks, and the 
homestead of John Brown. 

The Notch seems beyond the world, North 
Elba and its half-dozen houses are beyond the 
Notch, and there is a wilder little mountain 
road which rises beyond North Elba. But the 
house we seek is not even on that road, but 
behind it and beyond it ; you ride a mile or 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 221 

two, then take down a pair of bars ; beyond the 
bars, faith takes you across a half-cleared field, 
through the most difficult of wood paths, and 
after half a mile of forest you come out upon 
a clearing. There is a little frame house, un- 
painted, set in a girdle of black stumps, and 
with all heaven about it for a wider girdle ; on a 
high hill-side, forests on north and west, — the 
glorious line of the Adirondacks on the east, 
and on the south one slender road leading off to 
Westport, — a road so straight that you could 
sight a United States marshal for five miles. 

There stands the little house with no orna- 
ment or relief about it — it needs none with 
the setting of mountain horizon. Yes, there is 
one decoration which at once takes the eye, and 
which, stern and misplaced as it would seem 
elsewhere, seems appropriate here. It is a 
strange thing to see any thing so old, where 
all the works of man are new ! but it is an 
old, mossy, time-worn tombstone — not mark- 
ing any grave, not set in the ground, but 
resting against the house as if its time were 
either past or not yet come. Both are true — 
it has a past duty and a future one. It bears 
the name of Captain John Brown, who died 
during the Revolution, eighty-three years ago ; 
it was brought hither by his grandson bearing 
the same name and title ; the latter caused to 



222 CONTEMPORARIES 

be inscribed upon it, also, the name of his son 
Frederick, " murdered at Osawatomie for his 
adherence to the cause of freedom " (so reads 
the inscription) ; and he himself has said, for 
years, that no other tombstone should mark his 
own grave. 

For two years, now, that stone has stood 
there. No oath has been taken upon it, no 
curses been invoked upon it. It marks the 
abode of a race who do not curse. But morn- 
ing and noon, as the sons have gone out to 
their work on that upland farm, they have 
passed by it ; the early light over the Adiron- 
dacks has gilded it, the red reflection of sun- 
set has glowed back upon it ; its silent appeal 
has perpetually strengthened and sanctified that 
home — and as the two lately wedded sons 
went forth joyfully on their father's call to keep 
their last pledge at Harper's Ferry, they issued 
from that doorway between their weeping wives 
on the one side and that ancestral stone upon 
the other. 

The farm is a wild place, cold and bleak. 
It is too cold to raise corn there ; they can 
scarcely, in the most favorable seasons, obtain 
a few ears for roasting. Stock must be win- 
tered there nearly six months in every year. I 
was there on the first of November ; the ground 
was snowy, and winter had apparently begun, 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 223 

and it would last till the middle of May. They 
never raise anything to sell off that farm, ex- 
cept sometimes a few fleeces. It was well, they 
said, if they raised their own provisions, and 
could spin their own wool for clothing. 

Do you ask why they live in such a bleak 
spot ? With John Brown and his family there 
is a reason for everything, and it is always the 
same reason. Strike into their lives anywhere, 
and you find the same firm purpose at bottom, 
and to the widest questioning the same prompt 
answer comes ringing back, — the very motto 
of the tombstone, — " For adherence to the 
cause of freedom." The same purpose, nay, 
the selfsame project that sent John Brown to 
Harper's Ferry sent him to the Adirondacks. 

Twenty years ago John Brown made up his 
mind that there was an irrepressible conflict 
between freedom and slavery, and that in that 
conflict he must take his share. He saw at a 
glance, moreover, what the rest of us are only 
beginning to see, even now — that slavery must 
be met, first or last, on its own ground. The 
time has come to tell the whole truth now — 
that John Brown's whole Kansas life was the 
result of this self-imposed mission, not the cause 
of it. Let us do this man justice; he was not a 
vindictive guerrilla, nor a maddened Indian ; nor 
was he of so shallow a nature that it took the 



224 CONTEMPORARIES 

death of a son to convince him that right was 
right, and wrong was wrong. He had long be- 
fore made up his mind to sacrifice every son he 
ever had, if necessary, in fighting slavery. If 
it was John Brown against the world, no mat- 
ter ; for, as his friend Frederick Douglass had 
truly said, " In the right one is a majority." 
On this conviction, therefore, he deliberately 
determined, twenty years ago this summer, that 
at some future period he would organize an 
armed party, go into a slave State, and liberate 
a large number of slaves. Soon after, survey- 
ing professionally in the mountains of Virginia, 
he chose the very ground for his purpose. Vis- 
iting Europe afterwards, he studied military 
strategy for this purpose, even making designs 
(which I have seen) for a new style of forest 
fortification, simple and ingenious, to be used 
by parties of fugitive slaves when brought to 
bay. He knew the ground, he knew his plans, 
he knew himself ; but where should he find his 
men ? He came to the Adirondacks to look for 
them. 

Ten years ago Gerrit Smith gave to a num- 
ber of colored men tracts of ground in the 
Adirondack Mountains. The emigrants were 
grossly defrauded by a cheating surveyor, who, 
being in advance of his age, practically antici- 
pated Judge Taney's opinion, that black men 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 225 

have no rights which white men are bound 
to respect. By his villainy the colony was 
almost ruined in advance ; nor did it ever re- 
cover itself ; though some of the best farms 
which I have seen in that region are still in the 
hands of colored men. John Brown heard of 
this ; he himself was a surveyor, and he would 
have gone to the Adirondacks, or anywhere else, 
merely to right this wrong. But he had an- 
other object — he thought that among these 
men he should find coadjutors in his cherished 
plan. He was not wholly wrong, and yet he 
afterwards learned something more. Such men 
as he needed are not to be found ordinarily ; 
they must be reared. John Brown did not 
merely look for men, therefore ; he reared them 
in his sons. During long years of waiting and 
postponement, he found others ; but his sons 
and their friends (the Thompsons) formed the 
nucleus of his force in all his enterprises. What 
services the women of his family may have ren- 
dered it is not yet time to tell ; but it is a sat- 
isfaction to think that he was repaid for his 
early friendship to these New York colored men 
by some valuable aid from freed slaves and fugi- 
tive slaves at Harper's Ferry ; especially from 
Dangerfield Newby, who, poor fellow ! had a 
slave wife and nine slave children to fight for, 
all within thirty miles of that town. 



226 CONTEMPORARIES 

To appreciate the character of the family, it 
is necessary to know these things ; to under- 
stand that they have all been trained from 
childhood on this one principle, and for this one 
special project ; taught to believe in it as they 
believed in their God or their father. It has 
given them a wider perspective than the Adi- 
rondack^. Five years before, when they first 
went to Kansas, the father and sons had a plan 
of going to Louisiana, trying this same project, 
and then retreating into Texas with the liber- 
ated slaves. Nurtured on it so long, for years 
sacrificing to it all the other objects of life, the 
thought of its failure never crossed their minds ; 
and it is an extraordinary fact that when the 
disastrous news first came to North Elba, the 
family utterly refused to believe it and were 
saved from suffering by that incredulity till the 
arrival of the next weekly mail. 

I had left the world outside, to raise the 
latch of this humble door amid the mountains ; 
and now my pen falters on the threshold, as 
my steps did then. This house is a home of 
sacred sorrow. How shall we enter it ? Its 
inmates are bereft and ruined men and women, 
as the world reckons; what can we say to 
them ? Do not shrink ; you are not near the 
world ; you are near John Brown's household. 
" In the world ye shall have tribulation ; but 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 227 

be of good cheer : they have overcome the 
world." 

It had been my privilege to live in the best 
society all my life — namely, that of abolition- 
ists and fugitive slaves. I had seen the most 
eminent persons of the age : several men on 
whose heads tens of thousands of dollars had 
been set ; a black woman, who, after escaping 
from slavery herself, had gone back secretly 
eight times into the jaws of death to bring out 
persons whom she had never seen ; and a white 
man, who, after assisting away fugitives by the 
thousand, had twice been stripped of every dol- 
lar of his property in fines, and, when taunted 
by the court, had mildly said, " Friend, if thee 
knows any poor fugitive in need of a breakfast, 
send him to Thomas Garrett's door." I had 
known these, and such as these ; but I had not 
known the Browns. Nothing short of knowing 
them can be called a liberal education. Lord 
Byron could not help clinging to Shelley, be- 
cause he said he was the only person in whom 
he saw anything like disinterested benevolence. 
He really believed that Shelley would give his 
life for another. Poor Byron ! he might well 
have exchanged his wealth, his peerage, and his 
genius for a brief training at North Elba. 

Let me pause a moment, and enumerate the 
members of the family. John Brown was born 



228 CONTEMPORARIES 

in 1800, and his wife in 18 16, though both 
might have been supposed older than the ages 
thus indicated. He has had in all twenty chil- 
dren — seven being the offspring of his first 
wife, thirteen of his second. Four of each race 
are living — eight in all. The elder division of 
the surviving family comprises John and Jason, 
both married, and living in Ohio ; Owen, un- 
married, who escaped from Harper's Ferry, and 
Ruth, the wife of Henry Thompson, who lives 
on an adjoining farm at North Elba, an intelli- 
gent and noble woman. The younger division 
consists of Salmon, aged twenty-three, who re- 
sides with his young wife in his mother's house, 
and three unmarried daughters, Anne (sixteen), 
Sarah (thirteen), and Ellen (five). In the same 
house dwell also the widows of the two slain 
sons — young girls, aged but sixteen and twenty. 
The latter is the sister of Henry Thompson, 
and of the two Thompsons who were killed at 
Harper's Ferry ; they also lived in the same 
vicinity, and one of them also has left a widow. 
Thus complicated and intertangled is this gene- 
alogy of sorrow. 

All these young men went deliberately from 
North Elba for no other purpose than to join 
in this enterprise. " They could not," they told 
their mother and their wives, "live for them- 
selves alone ; " and so they went. One young 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 229 

wife, less submissive than the others, prevailed 
on her husband to remain ; and this is the only- 
reason why Salmon Brown survives. Oliver 
Brown, the youngest son, only twenty, wrote 
back to his wife from Harper's Ferry in a sort 
of premonition of what was coming, " If I can 
do a single good action, my life will not have 
been all a failure." 

Having had the honor of Captain Brown's 
acquaintance for some years, I was admitted 
into the confidence of the family, though I 
could see them observing me somewhat suspi- 
ciously as I approached the door. Everything 
that was said of the absent father and husband 
bore testimony to the same simple, upright char- 
acter. Though they had been much sepa- 
rated from him for the last few years, they 
all felt it to be a necessary absence, and had 
not only no complaint to make, but cordially 
approved it. Mrs. Brown had been always 
the sharer of his plans. "Her husband always 
believed," she said, " that he was to be an in- 
strument in the hands of Providence," and she 
believed it too. " This plan had occupied his 
thoughts and prayers for twenty years." " Many 
a night he had lain awake, and prayed concern- 
ing it." "Even now," she did not doubt, "he 
felt satisfied because he thought it would be 
overruled by Providence for the best." " For 



230 CONTEMPORARIES 

herself," she said, " she had always prayed that 
her husband might be killed in fight rather than 
fall alive into the hands of slaveholders ; but 
she could not regret it now, in view of the 
noble words of freedom which it had been his 
privilege to utter." When, the next day, on 
the railway, I was compelled to put into her 
hands the newspaper containing the death 
warrant of her husband, I felt no fears of her 
exposing herself to observation by any undue 
excitement. She read it, and then the tall, 
strong woman bent her head for a few minutes 
on the back of the seat before us ; then she 
raised it, and spoke calmly as before. 

I thought that I had learned the lesson once 
for all in Kansas, which no one ever learns from 
books of history alone, of the readiness with 
which danger and death fit into the ordinary 
grooves of daily life, so that on the day of a 
battle, for instance, all may go on as usual, 
— breakfast and dinner are provided, children 
cared for, and all external existence has the 
same smoothness that one observes at Niagara, 
just above the American Fall ; but it impressed 
me anew on visiting this household at this 
time. Here was a family out of which four 
young men had within a fortnight been killed. 
I say nothing of a father under sentence of 
death, and a brother fleeing for his life, but 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 231 

only speak of those killed. Now that word 
"killed" is a word which one hardly cares to 
mention in a mourning household circle, even 
under all mitigating circumstances, when sad 
unavailing kisses and tender funeral rites have 
softened the last memories ; how much less here, 
then, where it suggested not merely wounds 
and terror, and agony, but also coffinless graves 
in a hostile land, and the last ignominy of the 
dissecting-room. 

Yet there was not one of that family who 
could not pronounce that awful word with per- 
fect quietness ; never, of course, lightly, but 
always quietly. For instance, as I sat that 
evening, with the women busily sewing around 
me, preparing the mother for her sudden depar- 
ture with me on the morrow, some daguerreo- 
types were brought out to show me and some 
one said, " This is Oliver, one of those who were 
killed at Harper's Ferry." I glanced up sidelong 
at the young, fair-haired girl, who sat near me 
by the little table — a wife at fifteen, a widow at 
sixteen ; and this was her husband, and he was 
killed. As the words were spoken in her hear- 
ing, not a muscle quivered, and her finger did 
not tremble as she drew the thread. Her life 
had become too real to leave room for win- 
cing at mere words. She had lived through, 
beyond the word, to the sterner fact, and having 



232 CONTEMPORARIES 

confronted that, language was an empty shell. 
To the Browns, killing means simply dying — 
nothing more ; one gate into heaven, and that 
one a good deal frequented by their family ; that 
is all. 

There was no hardness about all this, no 
mere stoicism of will ; only God had inured 
them to the realities of things. They were 
not supported by any notions of worldly honor 
or applause, nor by that chilly reflection of it, 
the hope of future fame. In conversing with 
the different members of this family, I cannot 
recall a single instance of any heroics of that 
description. There, in that secluded home 
among the mountains, what have they to do 
with the world's opinion, even now, still less 
next century ? You remember Carlyle and his 
Frenchman, to whom he was endeavoring to 
expound the Scottish Covenanters. "These 
poor, persecuted people," said Carlyle, — "they 
made their appeal." "Yes," interrupted the 
Frenchman, "they appealed to posterity, no 
doubt." "Not a bit of it," quoth Carlyle,— 
" they appealed to the Eternal God ! " So with 
these whom I visited. I was the first person 
who had penetrated their solitude from the 
outer world since the thunderbolt had fallen. 
Do not imagine that they asked, What is the 
world saying of us ? Will j ustice be done to the 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 233 

memory of our martyrs ? Will men build the 
tombs of the prophets ? Will the great think- 
ers of the age affirm that our father "makes 
the gallows glorious like the cross ? " Not at 
all; they asked but one question after I had 
told them how little hope there was of acquittal 
or rescue. " Does it seem as if freedom were 
to gain or lose by this ? " That was all. Their 
mother spoke the spirit of them all to me, next 
day, when she said, " I have had thirteen chil- 
dren, and only four are left ; but if I am to see 
the ruin of my house, I cannot but hope that 
Providence may bring out of it some benefit to 
the poor slaves." 

No ; this family works for a higher price 
than fame. You know it is said that in all 
Wellington's dispatches you never meet with 
the word Glory ; it is always Duty. In Napo- 
leon's you never meet with the word Duty ; it 
is always Glory. The race of John Brown is 
of the Wellington type. Principle is the word 
I brought away with me as most familiar in 
their vocabulary. That is their standard of 
classification. A man may be brave, ardent, 
generous ; no matter — if he is not all this 
from principle, it is nothing. The daughters, 
who knew all the Harper's Ferry men, had no 
confidence in Cook because " he was not a 
man of principle." They would trust Stevens 



234 CONTEMPORARIES 

round the world, because "he was a man of 
principle." " He tries the hardest to be good," 
said Annie Brown, in her simple way, " of any 
man I ever saw." 

It is pleasant to add that this same brave- 
hearted girl, who had known most of her father's 
associates, recognized them all but Cook as be- 
ing men of principle. "People are surprised," 
she said, "at father's daring to invade Virginia 
with only twenty-three men ; but I think if they 
knew what sort of men they were, there would 
be less surprise. I never saw such men." 

And it pleases me to remember that since 
this visit, on the day of execution, while our 
Worcester bells were tolling their melancholy 
refrain, I took from the post-office a letter from 
this same young girl, expressing pity and sorrow 
for the recreant Cook, and uttering the hope 
that allowances might be made for his con- 
duct, "though she could not justify it." And 
on the same day I read that infuriated letter of 
Mrs. Mahala Doyle — a letter which common 
charity bids us suppose a forgery, uttering 
fiendish revenge in regard to a man against 
whom, by her own showing, there is not one 
particle of evidence to identify him with her 
wrongs. Nothing impressed me more in my 
visit to the Brown family, and in subsequent 
correspondence with them, than the utter ab- 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 235 

sence of the slightest vindictive spirit, even in 
words. 

The children spoke of their father as a per- 
son of absolute rectitude, thoughtful kindness, 
unfailing foresight, and inexhaustible activity. 
On his flying visits to the farm, every moment 
was used ; he was " up at three a. m., seeing to 
everything himself," providing for everything, 
and giving heed to the minutest points. It was 
evident that some of the older ones had stood 
a little in awe of him in their childish years. 
" We boys felt a little pleased sometimes, after 
all," said the son, " when father left the farm 
for a few days." "We girls never did," said 
the married daughter, reproachfully, the tears 
gushing to her eyes. " Well," said the brother, 
repenting, " we were always glad to see the old 
man come back again ; for if we did get more 
holidays in his absence, we always missed 
him." 

Those dramatic points of character in him, 
which will of course make him the favorite 
hero of all American romance hereafter, are 
nowhere appreciated more fully than in his 
own family. In the midst of all their sorrow, 
their strong and healthy hearts could enjoy 
the record of his conversations with the Vir- 
ginians, and applaud the keen, wise, simple an- 
swers which I read to them, selecting here and 



236 CONTEMPORARIES 

there from the ample file of newspapers I car- 
ried with me. When, for instance, I read the 
inquiry, "Did you go out under the auspices 
of the Emigrant Aid Society ? " and the an- 
swer, " No, sir ; I went out under the auspices of 
John Brown," three voices eagerly burst in with, 
" That 's true," and " That 's so." And when it 
was related that the young Virginia volunteer 
taxed him with want of military foresight in 
bringing so small a party to conquer Virginia, 
and the veteran imperturbably informed the 
young man that probably their views on military 
matters would materially differ, there was a 
general delighted chorus of, " That sounds just 
like father." And his sublimer expressions of 
faith and self-devotion produced no excitement 
or surprise among them, — since they knew in 
advance all which we now know of him — and 
these things only elicited, at times, a half -stifled 
sigh as they reflected that they might never 
hear that beloved voice again. 

References to their father were constant. 
This book he brought them ; the one sitting- 
room had been plastered with the last money he 
sent ; that desk, that gun, were his ; this was his 
daguerreotype ; and at last the rosy little Ellen 
brought me, with reverent hands, her prime 
treasure. It was a morocco case, inclosing a 
small Bible ; and in the beginning, written in 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 237 

the plain, legible hand I knew so well, the fol- 
lowing inscription, which would alone (in its 
touching simplicity) have been worthy the 
pilgrimage to North Elba to see. 

This Bible, presented to my dearly beloved 
daughter Ellen Brown, is not intended for com- 
mon use, but to be carefully preserved for her 
and by her> in remembrance of her father (of 
whose care and attentions she was deprived in 
her infancy), he being absent in the territory of 
Kansas from the summer of 1855. 

May the Holy Spirit of God incline your 
heart, in earliest childhood, "to receive the truth 
in the love of it," and to form your thoughts, 
words, and actions by its wise and holy pre- 
cepts, is my best wish and most earnest prayer 
to Him in whose care I leave you. Amen. 
From your affectionate father, 

John Brown. 

April 2, 1857. 

This is dated two years ago ; but the prin- 
ciples which dictated it were permanent. Al- 
most on the eve of his last battle, October 1, 
1859, he wrote home to his daughter Anne, in 
a letter which I saw, " Anne, I want you first of 
all to become a sincere, humble, and consistent 
Christian, and then [this is characteristic], to ac- 
quire good and efficient business habits. Save 



238 CONTEMPORARIES 

this to remember your father by, Anne. God 
Almighty bless and save you all. " 

John Brown is almost the only radical abo- 
litionist I have ever known who was not more 
or less radical in religious matters also. His 
theology was Puritan, like his practice ; and 
accustomed as we now are to see Puritan doc- 
trines and Puritan virtues separately exhibited, 
it seems quite strange to behold them com- 
bined in one person again. He and his wife 
were regular communicants of the Presbyterian 
church ; but it tried his soul to see the juvenile 
clerical gentlemen who came into the pulpits 
up that way, and dared to call themselves Pres- 
byterians — preachers of the gospel with all the 
hard applications left out. Since they had lived 
in North Elba, his wife said, but twice had the 
slave been mentioned in the Sunday services, 
and she had great doubts about the propriety 
of taking part in such worship as that. But 
when the head of the family made his visits 
home from Kansas, he commonly held a Sunday 
meeting in the little church, "under the au- 
spices of John Brown," and the Lord heard the 
slave mentioned pretty freely then. 

In speaking of religious opinions, Mrs. Brown 
mentioned two preachers whose sermons her 
sons liked to read, and " whose anti-slavery prin- 
ciples she enjoyed, though she could not agree 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 239 

with all their doctrines." She seemed to regard 
their positions as essentially the same. I need 
not say who the two are — the thunders of 
Brooklyn and of Boston acquire much the same 
sound as they roll up among the echoes of the 
Adirondacks. 

In respect to politics, Mrs. Brown told me 
that her husband had taken little interest in 
them since the election of Jackson, because he 
thought that politics merely followed the con- 
dition of public sentiment on the slavery ques- 
tion, and that this public sentiment was mainly 
created by actual collisions between slavery and 
freedom. Such, at least, was the view which I 
was led to attribute to him, by combining this 
fact which she mentioned with my own personal 
knowledge of his opinions. He had an almost 
exaggerated aversion to words and speeches, 
and a profound conviction of the importance 
of bringing all questions to a direct issue, and 
subjecting every theory to the test of practical 
application. 

I did not, of course, insult Mrs. Brown by any 
reference to that most shallow charge of insan- 
ity against her husband, which some even of his 
friends have, with what seems most cruel kind- 
ness, encouraged, — thereby doing their best to 
degrade one of the age's prime heroes into a 
mere monomaniac, — but it may be well to re- 



240 CONTEMPORARIES 

cord that she spoke of it with surprise, and said 
that if her husband were insane, he had been 
consistent in his insanity from the first moment 
she knew him. 

Now that all is over, and we appear to have 
decided, for the present, not to employ any car- 
nal weapons, such as steel or iron, for the res- 
cue of John Brown, but only to use the safer 
metals of gold and silver for the aid of his fam- 
ily, it may be natural for those who read this 
narrative to ask, What is the pecuniary con- 
dition of this household ? It is hard to answer, 
because the whole standard is different, as to 
such matters, in North Elba and in Massachu- 
setts. The ordinary condition of the Brown 
family may be stated as follows : They own the 
farm, such as it is, without incumbrance, except 
so far as unfelled forest constitutes one. They 
have ordinarily enough to eat of what the farm 
yields, namely, bread and potatoes, pork and 
mutton — not any great abundance of these, 
but ordinarily enough. They have ordinarily 
enough to wear, at least of woolen clothing, 
spun by themselves. And they have absolutely 
no money. When I say this I do not merely 
mean that they have no superfluous cash to go 
shopping with, but I mean almost literally that 
they have none. For nearly a whole winter, 
Mrs. Brown said, they had no money with 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 241 

which to pay postage, except a tiny treasury 
which the younger girls had earned for that ex- 
press object, during the previous summer, by 
picking berries for a neighbor three miles off. 

The reason of these privations simply was, 
that it cost money to live in Kansas in "ad- 
herence to the cause of freedom " (see the 
tombstone inscription again), but not so much 
to live at North Elba; and therefore the wo- 
men must stint themselves that the men might 
continue their Kansas work. When the father 
came upon his visits he never came empty- 
handed, but brought a little money, some plain 
household stores, flour, sugar, rice, salt fish ; tea 
and coffee they do not use. But what their 
standard of expense is may be seen from the 
fact that Mrs. Brown seemed to speak as if 
her youngest widowed daughter were not totally 
and absolutely destitute, because her husband 
had left a property of five sheep, which would 
belong to her. These sheep, I found on in- 
quiry, were worth, at that place and season, two 
dollars apiece : a child of sixteen, left a widow 
in the world, with an estate amounting to ten 
dollars ! The immediate financial anxieties of 
Mrs. Brown herself seemed chiefly to relate to 
a certain formidable tax bill, due at New Year's 
time ; if they could only weather that, all was 
clear for the immediate future. How much was 



242 CONTEMPORARIES 

it, I asked, rather surprised that that wild coun- 
try should produce a high rate of taxation. It 
was from eight to ten dollars, she gravely said ; 
and she had put by ten dollars for the purpose, 
but had had occasion to lend most of it to a 
poor black woman, with no great hope of re- 
payment. And one of the first things done by 
her husband, on recovering his money in Vir- 
ginia, was to send her, through me, fifteen dol- 
lars, to make sure of that tax bill. 

I see, on looking back, how bare and inex- 
pressive this hasty narrative is ; but I could not 
bear to suffer such a privilege as this visit to 
pass away unrecorded. I spent but one night 
at the house, and drove away with Mrs. Brown, 
in the early frosty morning, from that breezy 
mountain home, which her husband loved (as 
one of them told me) " because he seemed 
to think there was something romantic in that 
kind of scenery." There was, indeed, always 
a sort of thrill in John Brown's voice when he 
spoke of mountains. I never shall forget the 
quiet way in which he once told me that " God 
had established the Alleghany Mountains from 
the foundation of the world that they might one 
day be a refuge for fugitive slaves." I did not 
then know that his own home was among the 
Adirondacks. 

Just before we went, I remember, I said 



JOHN BROWN'S HOUSEHOLD 243 

something or other to Salmon Brown about 
the sacrifices of their family ; and he looked up 
in a quiet, manly way, which I shall never for- 
get, and said briefly, " I sometimes think that 
is what we came into the world for — to make 
sacrifices." And I know that the murmuring 
echo of those words went with me all that day, 
as we came down from the mountains, and out 
through the iron gorge ; and it seemed to me 
that any one must be very unworthy the so- 
ciety I had been permitted to enter who did not 
come forth from it a wiser and a better man. 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 

William Lloyd Garrison was born at New- 
buryport, Mass., December 10, 1805, and died 
in New York City, May 24, 1879. There 
passed away in him the living centre of a re- 
markable group of men and women who have 
had no equals among us, in certain moral at- 
tributes, since the Revolutionary period and 
perhaps not then. The Earl of Carlisle said of 
them that they were " righting a battle without 
parallel in the history of ancient or modern her- 
oism ; " and, without assuming to indorse this 
strong statement we may yet claim that there 
was some foundation for it. When we consider 
the single fact that the " Garrison mob " was 
composed, by the current assertion of leading 
journals, of "gentlemen of property and stand- 
ing," and that the then mayor of the city, wish- 
ing to protect the victim, found it necessary to 
direct that the modest sign of the Ladies' Anti- 
Slavery Society should be torn down and given 
to this mob for destruction, we can form some 
distinct impression of the opposition through 
which the early abolitionists had to fight their 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 245 

way. Their period was a time when truth was 
called treason, and when a man who spoke it 
might be dragged through the streets with a 
rope round his body. We must remember that 
men thus decorated do not always find it easy 
to be tolerant or to exhibit their gentlest side 
in return. The so-called persecution of reform- 
ers is often a thing too trivial to be worth talk- 
ing about, at least in English-speaking countries. 
Indeed, it is usually of that slight texture in 
these days, but in the early anti-slavery period 
it had something of the heroic quality. 

A few years later, when the abolitionists had 
won the right to have meetings of their own, 
there could not be a moment's doubt, for any 
observer, as to the real centre of the gathering. 
In first looking in upon any old-time conven- 
tion, any observing eye would promptly have 
selected Garrison as the leading figure on the 
platform. His firm and well-built person, his 
sonorous voice, and the grave and iron strength 
of his face would have at once indicated this. I 
never saw a countenance that could be com- 
pared to it in respect to moral strength and 
force ; he seemed the visible embodiment of 
something deeper and more controlling than 
mere intellect. His utterance was like his face, 
— grave, powerful, with little variety or play ; 
he had none of that rhetorical relief in which 



246 CONTEMPORARIES 

Phillips was so affluent ; he was usually monot- 
onous, sometimes fatiguing, but always con- 
trolling. His reason marched like an army 
without banners ; his invective was scathing, 
but as it was almost always mainly scriptural, 
it did not carry an impression of personal an- 
ger, but simply seemed like a newly discovered 
chapter of Ezekiel. He constantly reiterated 
and intrenched his argument with ample details, 
and had a journalist's love for newspaper cut- 
tings, which he inflicted without stint upon his 
audience, bearing down all reluctance with his 
commanding tones. For one, I cannot honestly 
say that I ever positively enjoyed one of his 
speeches, or that I ever failed to listen with a 
sense of deference and of moral leadership. 

At some future period the historian of the 
anti-slavery movement may decide on the fit 
award of credit due to each of the various in- 
fluences that brought about the abolition of 
slavery. The Garrisonian or Disunion Aboli- 
tionists represented the narrowest of the streams 
which made up the mighty river, but they un- 
doubtedly represented the loftiest height and 
the greatest head of water. The Garrisonians 
were generally non-resistants, but those who be- 
lieved in the physical rescue of fugitive slaves 
were nevertheless their pupils. The Garrisoni- 
ans eschewed voting, yet many who voted drew 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 247 

strength from them. The Garrisonians took 
little part in raising troops for war, but the tra- 
dition of their influence did much to impel the 
army. The only great emotion in which they 
took no share was the instinct of national devo- 
tion to the Union ; that sentiment had grown 
stronger in spite of them, and was largely due 
to Webster, who had, meanwhile, been led by 
it to make sacrifices which they had justly con- 
demned. The forces at work during that great 
period of our nation's life were too complex to 
be held in any single hand, but it was to Gar- 
rison more than to any other man, that the great 
ultimate result was remotely due. Every other 
participant seemed to reflect, more or less, the 
current of popular progress around him ; Gar- 
rison alone seemed an original and creative 
force. On this point the verdict of posterity 
will hardly appeal from the modest self -judg- 
ment of Abraham Lincoln when he said : " I 
have been only an instrument. The logic and 
moral power of Garrison and the anti-slavery 
people of the country and the army have done 
all." 1 

It now seems, in looking back, as if the anti- 
slavery movement would have been a compara- 

1 See " Lincoln's Conversation with Ex-Governor Chamber- 
lain of South Carolina," in New York Tribune, November 
4, 1883. 



248 CONTEMPORARIES 

tively easy thing had the party which assailed 
slavery been united, and yet this is a drawback 
which it shared apparently with every great re- 
form that was ever attempted. There raged 
within the anti-slavery ranks themselves a hos- 
tility, whose causes now seem very insufficient, 
but which vastly embarrassed the whole enter- 
prise. The quarrel between " Old Organiza- 
tion " and " New Organization " certainly em- 
bittered for a time the lives of all concerned in 
it. Beginning partly in a generous protest by 
Garrison and others against the exclusion of 
women from a World's Anti-Slavery Conven- 
tion, but partly also in his views on the Sabbath 
question and upon other side issues, it ended in 
the creation of two rival camps, with almost 
all the anti-slavery clergy and the voting abo- 
litionists on one side, while Garrison and his 
Spartan band held the other. Some blame, as 
I always thought, was to be attached to both 
sides, and the over-vehemence of the contest 
may be judged from the fact that a leading 
" Garrisonian " once went so far as to insinuate 
a doubt whether the stainless Whittier — who 
was then counted in the other ranks — was 
"more knave or fool." 

It is a very frequent experience of great re- 
formers that they part company by degrees 
with some of the ablest and most devoted of 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 249 

their early adherents ; but perhaps no man ever 
had so large an accumulation of this painful 
experience as had the recognized leader of the 
anti- slavery movement. The list of severed 
friendships included Benjamin Lundy, whom 
Garrison properly called "the pioneer" among 
abolitionists ; and William Goodell, whom Gar- 
rison described as " a much older and a better 
soldier " than himself. It included Arthur Tap- 
pan, who had paid Garrison's fine when impris- 
oned at Baltimore ; Lewis Tappan, whose house 
in New York had been sacked by a pro-slavery 
mob ; James G. Birney, who had emancipated 
his own slaves ; and Amos A. Phelps, who had 
defended Garrison against that Clerical Appeal 
which made so great a noise in its day. All 
these men were led by degrees into antagonism 
to their great leader ; it was a permanent divi- 
sion and influenced the whole anti-slavery move- 
ment. For this alienation on their part that 
leader had no mercy ; it was always attributed 
by him simply to " a mighty sectarian conspir- 
acy " or a "jealous and envious spirit." Pos- 
terity, less easily satisfied, quite disposed to 
honor the great anti-slavery warrior, but by no 
means inclined to give him exclusive laurels, 
will perhaps not wholly indorse this conclusion. 
I am ready to testify that, at the later period 
of the contest, and when his personal position 



250 CONTEMPORARIES 

was thoroughly established, he seemed wholly- 
patient and considerate with younger recruits. 
He never demanded that they should see eye 
to eye with him, but only that they should have 
what abolitionists called "the root of the mat- 
ter" in them. But I fear that the weight of 
testimony goes to show that he had not always 
been equally moderate in his demands. 

The charge most commonly made against 
him by these early associates was that of mani- 
festing a quality which the pioneer Benjamin 
Lundy called " arrogance," and the other pio- 
neer, William Goodell, depicted in his article, 
"How to make a Pope." "You exalt your- 
self too much," wrote the plain-spoken Elizur 
Wright. " I pray to God that you may be 
brought to repent of it." Lewis Tappan at 
about the same time wrote, — " You speak 
of ' sedition ' and ' chastising ' Messrs. Fitch, 
Towne, and Woodbury : I do not like such 
language." The most fearless and formidable 
of all these indictments, because the gentlest 
and most unwilling, was that of Sarah Grimke. 
Speaking of the course pursued by Garrison 
and his immediate circle toward her and her 
sister, she says : " They wanted us to live out 
William Lloyd Garrison, not the convictions of 
our own souls ; entirely unaware that they were 
exhibiting, in the high places of moral reform, 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 251 

the genuine spirit of slaveholding, by wishing 
to curtail the sacred privilege of conscience. 1 

This was the main complaint made against 
him from the inside, while the criticism from 
the outside was, and still is, that of excessive 
harshness of language. Here again it is to be 
observed that the charge does not rest on the 
testimony of enemies, but of friends. We find 
Harriet Martineau herself saying : " I do not 
pretend to like or to approve the tone of Garri- 
son's pointed censures. I could not use such 
language myself toward any class of offenders, 
nor can I sympathize in its use by others." 
This was not said in her first book on America, 
but in her second more deliberate one ; and 
when we consider the kind of language that 
Miss Martineau found herself able to use, this 
disclaimer becomes very forcible. What such 
critics overlooked and still overlook, is that the 
whole vocabulary of Garrison was the logical 
result of that stern school of old-fashioned Cal- 
vinism in which he had been trained. " The 
least of sins is infinite," says the Roman Cath- 
olic poet, Faber. This was the logical attitude 
of Calvinism, and apparently of the youthful 
reformer's mind. At twenty-three he wrote : 
" It is impossible to estimate the depravity and 
wickedness of those who, at the present day, 

1 The Sisters Grimke, p. 220. 



252 CONTEMPORARIES 

reject the gospel of Jesus Christ." When a 
young man begins with such vehemence of epi- 
thet, in matters of abstract belief, is it to be 
supposed that when he is called upon to cope 
with an institution which even the milder Wes- 
ley called "The sum of all villanies," he will 
suddenly develop the habit of scrupulous mod- 
eration ? " I will be harsh as truth," he said. 
The only question is, Was he never any harsher ? 
That there was such a thing possible as un- 
due harshness in speaking of individual slave- 
holders the abolitionists themselves were com- 
pelled sometimes to admit. When Charles 
Remond, the eloquent colored orator, called 
George Washington a villain, Wendell Phillips 
replied, " Charles, the epithet is infelicitous." 
Yet if, as was constantly assumed by Garrison, 
the whole moral sin of slaveholding rested on 
the head of each individual participant, it is 
difficult to see why the epithet was not admira- 
bly appropriate. The point of doubt is whether 
it did so rest, — but if it did, Remond was 
right. Such extreme statements were not al- 
ways thus rebuked. When a slaveholder was 
once speaking in an anti-slavery convention, 
he was flatly contradicted by Stephen Foster, 
who was, perhaps, next to Garrison, the hardest 
hitter among the abolitionists. " Do you think 
I would lie?" retorted the slaveholder. "Why 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 253 

not ? " said Foster. " I know you steal." This 
Draconian inflexibility, finding the least of sins 
worthy of death, and having no higher penalty 
for the greatest, was a very common code upon 
the anti-slavery platform. It was a part of its 
power, but it brought also a certain weakness, 
as being really based upon an untruth. 

Consider this matter for a moment. Men are 
not merely sometimes, but very often, better 
than the laws under which they live. Garrison 
wrote in one case : — 

" For myself, I hold no fellowship with slave- 
owners. I will not make a truce with them 
even for a single hour. I blush for them as 
countrymen. I know that they are not Chris- 
tians ; and the higher they raise their pro- 
fessions of patriotism or piety, the stronger is 
my detestation of their hypocrisy. They are 
dishonest and cruel, — and God and the angels 
and devils and the universe know that they are 
without excuse." 1 

" Without excuse ! " Set aside all the facts 
of ignorance, of heredity, of environment, of 
all that makes excuse in charitable minds when 
judging sin, and look at this one point only, — 
the tremendous practical difficulties studiously 
accumulated by skillful lawgivers in the way of 
sundering the relation between master and the 

1 William Lloyd Garrison : The Story of his Life, i. 208. 



254 CONTEMPORARIES 

slave. In all the great States of South Caro- 
lina, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, a man 
becoming heir to human property was abso- 
lutely prohibited from emancipating it except 
by a special authority of the legislature, a per- 
mission usually impossible to get. In one of 
these States, Mississippi, it was also required 
that the legislature itself could grant freedom 
only for some special act of public or private 
service on the part of the individual slave, and 
the same restriction was made in North Caro- 
lina, with the substitution of the county court 
for the legislature as authority. In every one of 
these States the slave-owner, had he been Gar- 
rison himself, was as powerless to free his slaves 
without the formal consent of the state authori- 
ties as he would have been to swim the Atlan- 
tic with those slaves on his back ; and yet these 
men were said to be "without excuse." Even 
in Virginia the converted slaveholder was met 
with the legal requirement that the freed slaves 
must be removed from the State within a cer- 
tain time, in default of which they would be 
sold at auction to the highest bidder. Slavery 
itself had often impoverished the owner, so that 
he could not personally remove the slaves, and 
the auction-block was to all these poor people 
the last of all tragedies. Even Birney, it will 
be remembered, freed his slaves in Kentucky, 



WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON 255 

while Palfrey freed his in Louisiana, the laws 
of both these States being exceptionally mild. 
The more we dwell on this complicated situa- 
tion, the more impressed we become with the 
vast wrong of the institution and of its avowed 
propagandists ; but the more charitable we be- 
come towards those exceptional slaveholders 
who had begun to open their eyes to its evils, 
yet found themselves bound hand and foot by 
its laws. In view of this class of facts, such 
general arraignments as that above cited from 
Garrison appear to me to have been too severe. 1 
The hostility of Garrison to the voting Abo- 
litionists did not merely take the form of disap- 
proval and distrust as being organized by men 
who had revolted from his immediate leader- 
ship, but he convinced himself that their politi- 
cal action was contemptible and even ludi- 
crous. When an anti-slavery candidate was 
first nominated for the presidency, he called it 
"folly, presumption, almost unequaled infatua- 
tion," and if he varied from this attitude of 
contempt it was to " denounce it," in his own 
words, "as the worst form of pro -slavery." 
But when the Liberty party had expanded into 
the Free-Soil party, and that again into the 
Republican party, much of the old bitterness 
waned, and some of the political anti- slavery 

1 Stroud's Slave Laws, pp. 146-51. 



256 CONTEMPORARIES 

leaders, especially Sumner and Wilson, were in 
constant and hearty intercourse with the Garri- 
sonian apostles. At this later period, at least, 
as I have already said, there was visible none of 
that exacting or domineering spirit which had 
been earlier attributed to him. 

Every candid estimate of Garrison's career 
must always end, it would seem, at substan- 
tially the same point. While not faultless, he 
kept far higher laws than he broke. He did the 
work of a man of iron in an iron age, so that 
even those who recognized his faults might well 
join, as they did, in the chorus of affectionate 
congratulations that marked his closing days. 
His fame is secure, and all the securer because 
time has enabled us to recognize, more clearly 
than at first, precisely what he did, and just 
what were the limitations of his temperament. 
It is a striking fact that in the Valhalla of con- 
temporary statues in his own city, only two, 
those of Webster and Everett, commemorate 
those who stood for the party of conservatism 
in the great anti-slavery conflict ; while all the 
rest, Lincoln, Quincy, Sumner, Andrew, Mann, 
Garrison, and Shaw represent the party of 
attack. It is the verdict of time, confirming 
in bronze and marble the great words of Em- 
erson, "What forests of laurel we bring, and 
the tears of mankind, to those who stood firm 
against the opinion of their contemporaries ! " 



PHILLIPS 

Wendell Phillips, son of John and Sarah 
(Walley) Phillips, was born in Boston Novem- 
ber 29, 181 1, and died in that city February 2, 
1884. Like many eminent men in New Eng- 
land, he traced his line of descent to a Puritan 
clergyman ; in this case, to the Rev. George 
Phillips, the first minister of Watertown, Mass. 
From that ancestor was descended, in the fifth 
generation, John Phillips, first mayor of Boston, 
elected in 1822 as a sort of compromise can- 
didate between Harrison Gray Otis and Josiah 
Quincy, who equally divided public favor. John 
Phillips is credited by tradition with " a pliable 
disposition," which he clearly did not transmit 
to his son. The mayor was a graduate of Har- 
vard College in 1788, held various public offices, 
and was for many years " Town Advocate and 
Public Prosecutor," a function which certainly 
became, in a less official sense, hereditary in the 
family. He was a man of wealth and reputa- 
tion, and he built for himself a large mansion, 
which is conspicuous in the early engravings of 
Boston, and is still standing at the lower corner 



258 CONTEMPORARIES 

of Beacon and Walnut streets. There Wendell 
Phillips was born. He was placed by birth in 
the most favored worldly position, the whole 
Phillips family being rich and influential at a 
time when social demarcations were more dis- 
tinct than now. He was, however, brought up 
wisely, since John Phillips made this rule for 
his children : " Ask no man to do for you any- 
thing that you are not able and willing to do 
for yourself." Accordingly his son claimed, in 
later life, that there was hardly any kind of ordi- 
nary trade or manual labor practiced in New 
England at which he had not done many a day's 
work. He attended the Boston Latin School, 
entered Harvard College before he was sixteen, 
and was graduated (in 1831) before he was 
twenty, in the same class with Motley the his- 
torian. My elder brother, who was two years 
later in college, used to say that Wendell Phil- 
lips was the only student of that period, for 
whom the family carriage was habitually sent 
out to Cambridge on Saturday morning to bring 
him into Boston for Sunday. 

It is rare for any striking career to have a 
dramatic beginning ; but it may be truly said of 
Wendell Phillips that his first recorded speech 
established his reputation as an orator, and de- 
termined the whole course of his life. Grad- 
uating at the Harvard Law School in 1834, he 



PHILLIPS 259 

was admitted to the bar in the same year. In 
1835 he witnessed the mobbing of Garrison; 
in 1836 joined the American Anti-slavery So- 
ciety. In 1837 occurred the great excitement 
which raged in Congress around John Quincy 
Adams when he stood for the right of petition ; 
and in November of that year Elijah P. Love- 
joy was murdered at Alton, 111., while defend- 
ing his press from a pro-slavery mob. The 
Rev. Dr. Channing and others asked the use of 
Faneuil Hall for a meeting to express their in- 
dignation, the city authorities refused it ; Dr. 
Channing then wrote an appeal to the citizens 
of Boston, and the authorities yielded to the 
demand. At the Faneuil Hall meeting Jona- 
than Phillips, a wealthy citizen and a second 
cousin of Wendell Phillips, presided ; Dr. Chan- 
ning spoke, and then two young lawyers, Hal- 
lett and Hillard. James Trecothick Austin, 
Attorney-General of the State, then addressed 
the audience from the gallery ; and his speech 
soon proved the meeting to be divided on the 
main question, with a bias toward the wrong 
side. He said that Lovejoy died as the fool 
dieth, and compared his murderers to the men 
who threw the tea into Boston Harbor. The 
audience broke into applause, and seemed ready 
to go with Austin ; when Wendell Phillips came 
on the platform, amid opposition that scarcely 



260 CONTEMPORARIES 

allowed him to be heard. Almost at his first 
words, he took the meeting in his hands, and 
brought it back to its real object. "When I 
heard," he said, " the gentleman lay down prin- 
ciples which placed the murderers of Alton side 
by side with Otis and Hancock, with Quincy 
and Adams, I thought these pictured lips [point- 
ing to their portraits] would have broken into 
voice to rebuke the recreant American, the slan- 
derer of the dead." From that moment the 
tide was turned, the audience carried, the ora- 
torical fame of Wendell Phillips secured, and 
his future career determined. From this time 
forward, and while slavery remained, he was first 
and chiefly an abolitionist ; all other reforms 
were subordinate to this, and this was his life. 
To this he sacrificed his social position, his early 
friendships, his professional career. Possess- 
ing a sufficient independent income, he did not 
incur the added discomfort of poverty; but, 
being rich, he made himself, as it were, poor 
through life, reduced his personal wants to the 
lowest terms, earned all the money he could by 
lecturing and gave away all that he could spare. 
He was fortunate in wedding a wife in perfect 
sympathy with him, — Miss Ann T. Greene, — 
and, indeed, he always said that her influence 
first made him an abolitionist. A life -long 
invalid, rarely leaving her room, she had yet 



PHILLIPS 261 

such indomitable courage, such keenness of 
wit, such insight into character, that she really 
divided with him the labors of his career. It 
is impossible for those who knew them both to 
think of him without her. They lived on Essex 
Street, in a region already almost deserted by 
residences and given over to shops ; the house 
was plain and bare without and within ; they 
had no children ; and, except during the brief 
period when their adopted daughter was with 
them, the home seemed almost homeless out- 
side of the walls of Mrs. Phillips's apartment. 
There indeed — for her husband and her few 
intimates — peace and courage ruled, with joy 
and hilarity not seldom added. During many 
years, however, Mr. Phillips was absent a great 
deal from Boston, on his lecture tours, though 
these rarely extended far westward, or over very 
long routes. Both he and his wife regarded 
these lectures as an important mission ; for 
even if he only spoke on "The Lost Arts" or 
"Street Life in Europe," it gave him a per- 
sonal hold upon each community he visited, and 
the next time, perhaps, an anti-slavery lecture 
would be demanded, or one on temperance or 
woman's rights. He always claimed this sort 
of preliminary influence, in particular, for his 
lecture on Daniel O'Connell, which secured for 
him a great following among our Irish fellow 



262 CONTEMPORARIES 

citizens at a time when they were bitterly 
arrayed against the anti-slavery movement. 

Unlike his coadjutor, Edmund Quincy, Wen- 
dell Phillips disavowed being a non-resistant. 
That scruple, as well as the alleged pro-slavery 
character of the Constitution, precluded most 
of the Garrisonian abolitionists from voting or 
holding office ; but Phillips was checked by his 
anti-slavery convictions alone. This fact made 
him, like Theodore Parker, a connecting link 
between the non-resistants and the younger 
school of abolitionists who believed in physical 
opposition to the local encroachments, at least, 
of the slave power. They formed various 
loosely knit associations for this purpose, of 
which he was not a member ; but he was ready 
with sympathy and money. In one of their 
efforts, the Burns rescue, he always regretted 
the mishap, which, for want of due explana- 
tion threw him on the side of caution, where 
he did not belong. At the Faneuil-Hall meet- 
ing which it was proposed to transfer bodily to 
Court Square, Theodore Parker was notified of 
the project, but misunderstood the signal ; Wen- 
dell Phillips was not notified, for want of time, 
and was very unjustly blamed afterwards. It 
is doubtful whether he was, in his very fibre, a 
man of action ; but he never discouraged those 
who were such, nor had he the slightest objec- 



PHILLIPS 263 

tion to violating law where human freedom 
was at stake. A man of personal courage he 
eminently was. In the intense and temporary 
revival of mob feeling in Boston, in the autumn 
and winter of i860, when a John Brown meet- 
ing was broken up by the same class who had 
mobbed Garrison, Wendell Phillips was the 
object of special hostility. He was then speak- 
ing every Sunday at the Music Hall, to Theo- 
dore Parker's congregation, and was each Sun- 
day followed home by a mob, while personally 
defended by a self-appointed body guard. On 
one occasion the demonstrations were so threat- 
ening that he was with difficulty persuaded to 
leave the hall by a side entrance, and was driven 
to his home, with a fast horse, by the same Dr. 
David Thayer who watched his dying bed. For 
several nights his house was guarded by a small 
number of friends within, and by the police 
without. During all this time, there was some- 
thing peculiarly striking and characteristic in 
his demeanor. There was absolutely nothing of 
bull-dog combativeness, but a careless, buoyant, 
almost patrician air, as if nothing in the way of 
mob violence were worth considering, and all 
threats of opponents were simply beneath con- 
tempt. He seemed like some English Jacobite 
nobleman on the scaffold, carelessly taking 
snuff, and kissing his hand to the crowd, before 
laying his head upon the block. 



264 CONTEMPORARIES 

No other person than Garrison could be said 
to do much in the way of guiding the " Gar- 
risonian " anti-slavery movement ; and Wendell 
Phillips was thoroughly and absolutely loyal to 
his great chief while slavery existed. In the 
details of the agitation, perhaps the leading 
organizers were two remarkable women, Maria 
Weston Chapman and Abby Kelley Foster. 
The function of Wendell Phillips was to supply 
the eloquence, but he was not wanting either in 
grasp of principles or interest in details. He 
thoroughly accepted the non-voting theory, and 
was ready, not only to speak at any time, but 
to write — which he found far harder — in op- 
position to those abolitionists, like Lysander 
Spooner, who were always trying to prove the 
United States Constitution an anti-slavery in- 
strument. Mr. Phillips's " The Constitution a 
Pro-slavery Compact" (1844), although almost 
wholly a compilation from the Madison papers, 
was for many years a storehouse of argument 
for the disunionists ; and it went through a 
series of editions. 

In later life he often wrote letters to the news- 
papers, in which he did not always appear to 
advantage. But he did very little writing, on 
the whole : it always came hard to him, and he 
had, indeed, a theory that the same person could 
never succeed both in speaking and writing, 



PHILLIPS 265 

because they required such different habits of 
mind. Even as to reports of what he had said, 
he was quite indifferent ; and it was rather hard 
to persuade him to interest himself in the vol- 
ume of his " Speeches, Lectures, and Essays," 
which was prepared by James Redpath in 
1863. That editor was a good deal censured 
at the time for retaining in these speeches the 
expressions of applause or disapprobation which 
had appeared in the original newspaper reports, 
and which the orator had erased. It is, how- 
ever, fortunate that Mr. Redpath did this : it 
not only increases their value as memorials of 
the time, but it brings out that close contact 
and intercommunion with his audience which 
formed an inseparable part of the oratory of 
Wendell Phillips. The latter also published 
" The Constitution a Pro - slavery Compact " 
(1844), " Can Abolitionists vote or take Office ? " 
(1845), " Review of Spooner's Constitutionality 
of Slavery" (1847), an ^ other similar pamphlets. 
He moreover showed real literary power and an 
exquisite felicity in the delineation of character, 
through his memorial tributes to some of his 
friends ; as, for instance, the philanthropist Mrs. 
Eliza Garnaut of Boston, whose only daughter 
he afterward adopted. 

The keynote to the oratory of Wendell 
Phillips lay in this : that it was essentially con- 



266 CONTEMPORARIES 

versational, — the conversational raised to its 
highest power. Perhaps no orator ever spoke 
with so little apparent effort, or began so entirely 
on the plane of his average hearers. It was 
as if he simply repeated, in a little louder tone, 
what he had just been saying to some familiar 
friend at his elbow. The effect was absolutely 
disarming. Those accustomed to spread-eagle 
eloquence felt perhaps a slight sense of disap- 
pointment. Could this quiet, easy, effortless 
man be Wendell Phillips ? But he held them 
by his very quietness : it did not seem to have 
occurred to him to doubt his power to hold 
them. The poise of his manly figure, the easy 
grace of his attitude, the thrilling modulation 
of his perfectly trained voice, the dignity of 
his gesture, the keen penetration of his eye, 
all aided to keep his hearers in hand. The 
colloquialism was never relaxed, but it was 
familiarity without loss of keeping. When he 
said "isn't" and "wasn't," — or even like an 
Englishman dropped his gs, and said " bein' " 
and "doin'," — it did not seem inelegant; he 
might almost have been ungrammatical, and it 
would not have impaired the fine air of the man. 
Then, as the argument went on, the voice grew 
deeper, the action more animated, and the 
sentences would come in a long, sonorous swell, 
still easy and graceful, but powerful as the soft 



PHILLIPS 267 

stretching of a tiger's paw. He could be terse 
as Carlyle, or his periods could be as prolonged 
and cumulative as those of Rufus Choate or 
Evarts : no matter ; they carried, in either case, 
an equal charm. He was surpassed by Garri- 
son in grave moral logic ; by Parker, in the 
grasp of facts and in merciless sarcasm ; by 
Sumner, in copiousness of illustration ; by Doug- 
lass, in humor and in pathos, — but, after all, 
in the perfect moulding of the orator, he sur- 
passed not merely each of these, but all of them 
combined. What the Revolutionary orators 
would now seem to us, we cannot tell ; but it is 
pretty certain that of all our post-Revolutionary 
speakers, save Webster only, Wendell Phillips 
stood at the head, while he and Webster repre- 
sented types of oratory so essentially different 
that any comparison between them is like trying 
to compare an oak-tree and a pine. 

He was not moody or variable, or did not 
seem so ; yet he always approached the hour of 
speaking with a certain reluctance, and never 
could quite sympathize with the desire to listen 
either to him or to any one else. As he walked 
toward the lecture-room he would say to a friend, 
" Why do people go to lectures ? There is a 
respectable man and woman ; they must have 
a good home ; why do they leave it for the sake 
of hearing somebody talk ? " This was not 



268 CONTEMPORARIES 

affectation, but the fatigue of playing too long 
on one string. Just before coming on the plat- 
form at a convention, he would remark with ab- 
solute sincerity, " I have absolutely nothing to 
say ; " and then would go on to make, especially 
if hissed or interrupted, one of his very best 
speeches. Nothing spurred him like opposi- 
tion ; and it was not an unknown thing for some 
of his young admirers to take a back seat in the 
hall, in order to stimulate him by a counterfeited 
hiss if the meeting seemed tame. Then the 
unsuspecting orator would rouse himself like 
a lion. When this opposition came not from 
friends but foes, it was peculiarly beneficial ; and 
perhaps the greatest oratorical triumph he ever 
accomplished was on that occasion in Faneuil 
Hall (January 30, 1852) when it was re-opened to 
the abolitionists after the capture of the slave 
Thomas Sims. Mr. Webster's friends were 
there in force, and drowned Mr. Phillips's voice 
by repeated cheers for their favorite, when Mr. 
Phillips so turned the laugh against them each 
time, in the intervals when they paused for 
breath, that their cheers grew fainter and fainter, 
and he had at last mobbed the mob. 

He used to deny having trained himself for a 
public speaker ; drew habitually from but few 
books, — Tocqueville's " Democracy in Amer- 
ica " being among the chief of these, — but read 



PHILLIPS 269 

newspapers enormously, and magazines a good 
deal, while he had the memory of an orator or 
a literary man, never letting pass an effective 
anecdote or a telling fact. These he turned to 
infinite account, never sparing ammunition, and 
never fearing to repeat himself. He used to 
say that he knew but one thing thoroughly, — 
the history of the English Revolution, — and 
from this he obtained morals whenever he 
wanted them, and in fact used them in almost 
any direction. He knew the history of the 
American Revolution also, Sam Adams being 
his favorite hero. He was a thorough Bos- 
tonian, too, and his anti - slavery enthusiasm 
never rose quite so high as when blended with 
local patriotism. No one who heard it can ever 
forget the thrilling modulation of his voice 
when he said, at some special crisis of the anti- 
slavery agitation, " I love inexpressibly these 
streets of Boston, over whose pavements my 
mother held up tenderly my baby feet ; and if 
God grants me time enough, I will make them 
too pure to bear the footsteps of a slave." At 
the very outset he doubtless sometimes pre- 
pared his speeches with care ; but his first 
great success was won off-hand ; and afterward, 
during that period of incessant practice, which 
Emerson makes the secret of his power, he re- 
lied generally upon his vast accumulated store 



270 CONTEMPORARIES 

of facts and illustrations, and his tried habit of 
thinking on his legs. On special occasions he 
would still make preparation, and sometimes, 
though rarely, wrote out his speeches before- 
hand. No one could possibly recognize this, 
however. He had never seemed more at his 
ease, more colloquial, more thoroughly extem- 
poraneous, than in his address in later life be- 
fore the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge ; 
yet it had all been sent to the Boston daily 
papers in advance, and appeared with scarcely 
a word's variation, except where he had been 
compelled to omit some passages for want of 
time. That was, in some respects, the most 
remarkable effort of his life ; it was a tardy 
recognition of him by his own college and his 
own literary society ; and he held an unwilling 
audience spellbound, while bating absolutely 
nothing of his radicalism. Many a respectable 
lawyer or divine felt his blood run cold, the 
next day, when he found that the fascinating 
orator whom he had applauded to the echo had 
really made the assassination of an emperor 
seem as trivial as the doom of a mosquito. 

He occupied during most of his life the will- 
ing position of a tribune of the people ; nor was 
there any social class with which he was unwill- 
ing to be, logically and politically at least, iden- 
tified. Emerson, while thoroughly true to the 



PHILLIPS 271 

anti- slavery movement, always confessed to 
feeling a slight instinctive aversion to negroes ; 
Theodore Parker uttered frankly his dislike of 
the Irish. Yet neither of these had distinctly 
aristocratic impulses, while Phillips had. His 
conscience set them aside so imperatively that 
he himself hardly knew that they were there. 
He was always ready to be identified with the 
colored people, always ready to give his oft-re- 
peated lecture on O'Connell to the fellow coun- 
trymen of that hero ; but in these and all cases 
his democratic habit had the good-natured air of 
some kindly young prince ; he never was quite 
the equal associate that he seemed. The want 
of it was never felt by his associates ; it was in 
his dealing with antagonists that the real atti- 
tude came out. When he once spoke contemp- 
tuously of those who dined with a certain Bos- 
ton club which had censured him, as "men of 
no family," the real mental habit appeared. 
And in his external aspect and bearing the pa- 
trician air never quite left him, — the air that 
he had in college days, or in that period when, 
as Edmund Quincy delighted to tell, an Eng- 
lish visitor pointed out to George Ticknor two 
men walking down Park Street, and added the 
cheerful remark, " They are the only men I 
have seen in your country who look like gen- 
tlemen." The two men were the abolitionists 



272 CONTEMPORARIES 

Quincy and Phillips, in whose personal aspect 
the conservative Ticknor could see little to 
commend. 

There is no fame so intoxicating or so tran- 
sient as that of mere oratory. Some of the 
most accomplished public speakers whom Amer- 
ica has produced have died in mid-career, and 
left scarcely a ripple on the surface. It was not 
chance that gave a longer lease of fame to 
Wendell Phillips; a great many elements of 
genius, studies, social prestige, and moral self- 
sacrifice had to be combined to produce it. It 
never turned his head ; his aims were too high 
for that, and he was aided by the happy law 
of compensation, which is apt to make men 
indifferent to easily won laurels. There is no 
doubt that, in the height of his fame as a lec- 
turer or platform speaker, he often chafed under 
the routine and the fatigue, and felt that, had 
not fate or Providence betrayed him, his career 
would have been very different. He knew 
that, coming forward into life with his powers, 
and at the time he did, he might probably 
have won the positions which went easily to 
men far less richly endowed, — as Abbott Law- 
rence and Robert Charles Winthrop, — and 
that, had he been once within the magic cir- 
cle of public office, he could have used it for 
noble ends, like his favorite, Sir Samuel Romilly. 



PHILLIPS 273 

" What I should have liked," he said once to 
me, "would have been the post of United 
States Senator for Massachusetts ; " and though 
he never even dreamed of this as possible for 
himself, he saw his friend Sumner achieve a 
position which he, could he once have accepted 
its limitations, might equally have adorned. 

It is impossible to say how public office might 
have affected him ; whether it would have given 
him just that added amount of reasonableness 
and good judgment which in later years seemed 
occasionally wanting, or whether it would have 
only betrayed him to new dangers. He never 
had it, and the perilous lifelong habits of the 
platform told upon him. The platform speaker 
has his especial dangers, as conspicuously as the 
lawyer or the clergyman ; he acquires insensibly 
the mood of a gladiator, and, the better his fen- 
cing, the more he becomes the slave of his own 
talent. Les hommes exerces a Vescrime out 
beau vouloir manager leur adversaire, V habi- 
tude est plus forty Us ripostent malgre eux. As 
under this law the Vicomte de Camors se- 
duced, almost against his will, the wife of the 
comrade to whom he had pledged his life, so 
Wendell Phillips, once with rapier in hand, in- 
sensibly fought to win, as well as for the glory 
of God. The position once taken must be 
maintained ; the opponent must be overwhelmed 



274 CONTEMPORARIES 

by almost any means. No advocate in any 
court was quicker than he to shift his ground, 
to introduce a new shade of meaning, to aban- 
don an obvious interpretation, and insist on a 
more subtle one. Every man makes mistakes ; 
but you might almost count upon your ten fin- 
gers the number of times that Wendell Phil- 
lips, during his whole lifetime, owned himself 
to have been in the wrong, or made a conces- 
sion to* an adversary. In criticising his career 
in this respect, we may almost reverse the cele- 
brated censure passed on the charge of the Six 
Hundred, and may say that it was not heroic, 
but it was war. 

If this was the case during the great contest 
with slavery, the evil was more serious after 
slavery fell. The civil war gave to Phillips, as 
it gave to many men, an opportunity ; but it 
was not, in his case, a complete opportunity. 
At first he was disposed to welcome secession, 
as fulfilling the wishes of years; "to build," 
as he said, " a bridge of gold for the Southern 
States to walk over in leaving the Union." This 
mood passed ; and he accepted the situation, 
aiding the departing regiments with voice and 
purse. Yet it was long before the war took 
a genuinely anti-slavery character, and younger 
men than he were holding aloof from it for that 
reason. He distrusted Lincoln for his deliber- 



PHILLIPS 275 

ation, and believed in Fremont ; in short, for a 
variety of reasons took no clear and unmistak- 
able attitude. After the war had overthrown 
slavery, the case was even worse. It was a study 
of character to note the differing demeanors of 
the great abolitionist leaders after that event. 
Edmund Quincy found himself wholly out of 
harness, desceuvre ; there was no other battle 
worth fighting. He simply reverted, for the 
rest of his life, to that career of cultivated lei- 
sure from which the anti-slavery movement had 
wrenched him for forty years ; he was a critic 
of music, a frequenter of the theatres. Garri- 
son, on the other hand, with his usual serene 
and unabated vigor, went on contending for the 
rights of the freedmen and of women, as earlier 
for those of the slaves. Unlike either of these, 
Wendell Phillips manifested for the remainder 
of his career a certain restlessness — always 
seemed to be crying, like Shakspeare's Hotspur, 
" Fye upon this idle life ! " and to be always 
seeking for some new tournament. 

This would not perhaps have been an evil, 
had he not carried with him into each new en- 
terprise the habits of the platform, and of the 
anti-slavery platform in particular. There never 
was a great moral movement so logically simple 
as the anti-slavery reform : once grant that man 
could not rightfully hold property in man, and the 



276 CONTEMPORARIES 

intellectual part of the debate was settled ; only 
the moral appeal remained, and there Phillips 
was master, and could speak as one having 
authority. Slavery gone, the temperance and 
woman suffrage agitations remained for him as 
before. But he also found himself thrown, by 
his own lifelong habit, into a series of new re- 
forms, where the questions involved were wholly 
different from those of the anti-slavery move- 
ment, and were indeed at a different stage of 
development. You could not settle the rela- 
tions of capital and labor off-hand, by saying, 
as in the case of slavery, " Let my people go ; " 
the matter was far more complex. It was like 
trying to adjust a chronometer with no other 
knowledge than that won by observing a sun- 
dial. In dealing with questions of currency it 
was still worse. And yet Wendell Phillips 
went on, for the remainder of his life, preach- 
ing crusades on these difficult problems, which 
he gave no sign of ever having profoundly stud- 
ied, and appealing to sympathy and passion as 
ardently as if he still had three million slaves 
for whom to plead. 

It was worse still, when, with the natural 
habit of a reformer, he found himself readily 
accepting the companionship into which these 
new causes brought him. The tone of the anti- 
slavery apostles was exceedingly high, but there 



PHILLIPS 277 

were exceptions even there. "He is a great 
scoundrel," said Theodore Parker of a certain 
blatant orator in Boston, " but he loves liberty." 
It was true, and was fairly to be taken into ac- 
count. You do not demand a Sunday school 
certificate from the man who is rescuing your 
child from a burning house. But it is to be 
said, beyond this, that, though the demagogue 
and the true reformer are at opposite extremes, 
they have certain points in common. Society 
is apt to make them both for a time outcasts, 
and outcasts fraternize. They alike distrust the 
staid and conventional class, and they are dis- 
trusted by it. When a man once falls into the 
habit of measuring merit by martyrdoms, he 
discriminates less closely than before, and the 
best abused man, whatever the ground of abuse, 
seems nearest to sainthood. Phillips, at his 
best, had not always shown keen discrimination 
as a judge of character ; and the fact that the 
Boston newspapers thought ill of General But- 
ler, for instance, was to him a strong point in 
that gentleman's favor. In this he showed him- 
self less able to discriminate than his old asso- 
ciate, Stephen Foster, one of the most heroic 
and frequently mobbed figures in anti-slavery 
history : for Stephen Foster sat with reluctance 
to see Caleb Cushing rudely silenced in Fan- 
euil Hall by his own soldiers, after the Mexi- 



278 CONTEMPORARIES 

can war ; and lamented that so good a mob, 
which might have helped the triumph of some 
great cause, should be wasted on one whom he 
thought so poor a creature. Fortunate it would 
have been for Wendell Phillips if he had gone 
no farther than this ; but he insisted on argu- 
ing from the mob to the man, forgetting that 
people may be censured as well for their sins 
as for their virtues. The last years of his life 
thus placed him in close cooperation with one 
whose real motives and methods were totally 
unlike his own, — indeed, the most unscrupu- 
lous soldier of fortune who ever posed as a 
Friend of the People on this side the Atlantic. 
But all these last days, and the increasing 
irritability with which he impulsively took up 
questions to which he could contribute little 
beyond courage and vehemence, will be at least 
temporarily forgotten now that he is gone. 
They will disappear from memory, like the 
selfishness of Hancock, or the vanity of John 
Adams, in the light of a devoted, generous, and 
courageous career. With all his faults, his in- 
consistencies, his impetuous words, and his un- 
reasoning prejudices, Wendell Phillips belonged 
to the heroic type. Whether we regard him 
mainly as an orator, or as a participant in im- 
portant events, it is certain that no history of 
the United States will ever be likely to omit 



PHILLIPS 279 

him. It is rarely that any great moral agitation 
bequeaths to posterity more than two or three 
names ; the English slave-trade abolition has 
left only Clarkson and Wilberforce in memory ; 
the great Corn Law contest, only Cobden and 
Bright. The American anti-slavery movement 
will probably embalm the names of Garrison, 
Phillips, and John Brown. This is for the fu- 
ture to decide. Meanwhile, it is certain that 
Wendell Phillips had, during life, that quality 
which Emerson thought the highest of all quali- 
ties, — of being " something that cannot be 
skipped or undermined." From the moment of 
his death, even those who had most criticised 
him instinctively felt that one great chapter of 
American history was closed. 



SUMNER 

Charles Sumner was born at Boston, Mass., 
January 6, 1811, and died at Washington, D. C, 
March u, 1874. 

The most poetic delineator of the life of 
ancient Greece, — Landor, — describes Demos- 
thenes as boasting that there were days when 
Athens had but one voice within her walls, and 
the stranger, entering the gates and startled by 
the silence, was told that Demosthenes was 
speaking in the assembly of the people. On 
the day before Charles Sumner's funeral it 
seemed that Boston, too, had but one voice 
within her walls, and that it came from the 
mute form reposing in the Doric Hall of the 
State House. Emerson has said 

" The silent organ loudest chants 
Its master's requiem," 

and never was there an appeal more potent 
than came that day from the very speechless- 
ness of that noble organ, the voice of Charles 
Sumner. 

Standing amid that crowd at the State 
House, it was impossible not to ask one's self : 



SUMNER 281 

" Can this be Boston ? The city whose bells 
toll for Sumner — is it the same city that fired 
one hundred guns for the passage of the Fugi- 
tive Slave Law ? The King's Chapel, which is 
to hold his funeral rites — can it be the same 
King's Chapel which furnished from among its 
worshipers the only Massachusetts represen- 
tative who voted for that law? These black 
soldiers who guard the coffin of their great 
friend — are they of the same race with those 
unarmed black men who were marched down 
yonder street surrounded by the bayonets of 
Boston militiamen ? " It is said that when 
Sumner made his first conspicuous appearance 
as an orator in Boston, and delivered his address 
on " The True Grandeur of Nations," a promi- 
nent merchant said indignantly, as he went out 
of the building : " Well, if that young man is 
going to talk in that way, he cannot expect 
Boston to hold him up." Boston did not hold 
him up ; but Massachusetts so sustained him 
that he held up Boston, until it had learned to 
sustain him in return. 

In reviewing the life of any great public man, 
we must consider two things — the scene and 
the actor. When Sumner was elected to the 
United States Senate, in 185 1, the whole situ- 
ation was one which now seems as remote as 
if centuries had passed since then. The nation 



282 CONTEMPORARIES 

was apparently entering on a death struggle. 
The North was divided. Families were divided. 
All the safeguards in which the men of the 
Revolution had trusted were being swept away, 
and an institution which the men of the Re- 
volution had scarcely feared was now proving 
more powerful than all the rest. Old John 
Adams, in 1786, had a conversation with a 
certain Major Langbourne, from Virginia, who 
was lamenting the difference of character be- 
tween that commonwealth and New England. 
Mr. Adams gave him " a receipt for making a 
New England in Virginia," and he named four 
ingredients, — "town meetings, training days, 
town schools, and ministers." But in 185 1 sla- 
very had demoralized the town meetings ; it had 
turned the training days into military schools 
for slave kidnappers ; it had torn the anti-sla- 
very pages out of the school books ; and it had 
gagged many of the ministers, or made them 
open their lips in such a way that they would 
have done better to remain gagged. "Honest 
John Davis," as he was called — Mr. Sumner's 
first colleague — when asked by Mr. Sumner 
what was his final opinion of public life, on 
leaving it, in 1853, gave it in these brief words : 
" At Washington slavery rules everything." It 
was into such a scene as this that Mr. Sumner 
was sent at his first election. 



SUMNER 283 

He was sent to work out his own course 
absolutely. He had no party ; he was to create 
a party. He had no firm following. The 
abolitionists watched him with hope, but not 
without distrust ; they had seen so many fail. 
His opponents were prepared to denounce him as 
a man of one idea, if he devoted himself to the 
slavery question alone ; or as a demagogue, if he 
took up any other. When he made his first 
speech on a general question (a land bill), it is 
recorded that a Boston clergyman said it " be- 
trayed the instincts of a demagogue, and was 
designed for popularity at the West." 

Then came, a few years after, the attack by 
Brooks. At the beginning of that session, Mr. 
Sumner had said to my brother : " This ses- 
sion will not pass without the Senate Cham- 
ber's becoming the scene of some unparalleled 
outrage." Thus clearly did he understand the 
path he was treading. The assault was the 
legitimate result of the general spirit of vio- 
lence then prevailing, North and South. Theo- 
dore Parker said that the acorn from which 
Brooks's bludgeon grew was none other than 
the Acorn, that brig owned in Boston and char- 
tered by the United States government to take 
Sims into slavery. The Charleston " Mercury " 
of July 21, 1856, said of the assault on Mr. 
Sumner : " The whole affair has been most 



284 CONTEMPORARIES 

opportune. . . . He [Mr. Brooks] has from the 
first conducted himself with good taste, good 
judgment, and good spirit." Mr. Sumner "is 
dead in the esteem of every man not a poltroon, 
North and South." Such was the scene of 
public service on which the great senator fig- 
ured. Now what qualities did he bring to it ? 

He brought, first, a magnificent physical 
organization, just in its prime. There is an 
Arabian proverb that no man is called of God 
till the age of forty ; and Sumner was just 
that age when he entered the Senate. He had 
a grand, imposing presence, strong health, and 
athletic habits. He was, if I mistake not, one 
of the few persons who have ever swum across 
the Niagara River just below the Falls. Nia- 
gara first ; slavery afterward. He felt fully the 
importance of bodily vigor, and I remember 
that once, in looking at a fine engraving of 
Charles Fourier, in my study, after I had re- 
marked " What a head ! " he answered : " Yes ; 
and what a body ! A head is almost worthless 
without an adequate body to sustain it." His 
whole physique marked him as a leader and 
ruler among men; and I remember well that 
when I first visited the English Parliament, I 
looked in vain among Lords and Commons for 
the bodily peer of Charles Sumner. 

Then let us consider his intellect. The very 



SUMNER 285 

highest quality of intellect it is not safe to claim 
for him. The highest poetic imagination, bring- 
ing glory out of common things ; the highest 
scientific genius, which almost partakes of the 
poetic quality ; the finest philosophic discrimi- 
nation ; the military or administrative genius 
— "the art Napoleon," — these were not his. 
He had not even the rarest manifestation of 
statesmanlike genius — that, namely, which 
solves the problem and gives the key, as was 
done by Samuel Adams in the Revolutionary 
period and by Garrison in our own day. Sum- 
ner was in relation to Garrison a learner. He 
had read " The Liberator " for more than ten 
years before he entered public life. Indeed, 
Sumner himself never claimed to belong to the 
rarest class of original minds. He said to me 
once, in relation to some demand upon him 
which he thought excessive : " These people 
forget that I am a cistern, not a fountain, and 
require time to fill up." 

But to the very highest type of secondary 
minds he certainly belonged. Jefferson was 
not so great as Samuel Adams, but he put 
the thoughts of Adams into words that made 
them immortal. Sumner, like Jefferson, con- 
tributed the intellectual statements needed — 
put the new " Declaration of Independence " 
into working form. His successive orations, 



286 CONTEMPORARIES 

by their very titles, gave a series of phrases 
that were half battles, as was said of Luther's 
words. Grattan said that all the speeches of 
Demosthenes were not equal to that one brief 
utterance of Chatham's, — "America has re- 
sisted. I rejoice, my lords ! " Sumner's phrases 
had less electricity than this, but they had a 
weighty and organizing value. " Freedom na- 
tional, slavery sectional ; " "The crime against 
Kansas ; " " The barbarism of slavery ; " — each 
of these hit some nail precisely on the head. 
Seward's "Irrepressible Conflict" was the only 
phrase of equal value from any other source. 

But, after all, the great characteristic of Sum- 
ner's intellect is not to be ascertained by the 
qualitative test, but by the quantitative. Judged 
simply by quantity his intellectual activity was 
unequaled among the Americans of his gener- 
ation. Among those whom I have personally 
known, I should say that Theodore Parker 
alone could be compared with him in range and 
comprehensiveness of intellectual activity ; and 
though Parker had a far more poetic nature, 
more humor, more pathos, more homely com- 
mon sense, he was less accurate in his scholar- 
ship and had less power of weighty and con- 
secutive thought. It was said of Fox that every 
sentence of his came rolling in like a wave of 
the Atlantic, three thousand miles long. It 



SUMNER 287 

was the same with the statements of Sumner. 
They consisted of long chains of rhetoric, of 
accumulated facts, of erudite illustration, that 
might have been cumbrous and tedious had 
they not been sustained by vigor such as his. 
It is easy enough to put on an air of scholar- 
ship ; a little goes a great way with those 
who are not scholars. But Sumner astonished 
scholars. The more any one had studied any 
question, the more amazing were the floods of 
light poured upon it when stated by Sumner. 
Terseness, condensation, severe simplicity, were 
not in his line. His merits and his defects lay 
in another direction. He had what President 
Dwight, visiting Boston in 18 10, described as 
"the Boston style of oratory, — a florid style." 
But this was the florid quality of Gladstone, 
not of Peel, of whom it was said that he knew 
how to " make a platitude endurable by making 
it pompous." I do not see why Sumner's great 
orations should not be preserved by posterity 
with those of Burke, long after their immediate 
occasion has passed away. Sumner will have 
the permanent advantage over Burke that he 
loved liberty, while Burke feared it ; and Sum- 
ner had also the temporary advantage that he 
held his audiences together while Burke scat- 
tered his, and was called " the dinner bell," 
from his faculty of thinning out the House of 
Commons. 



288 CONTEMPORARIES 

But even these resources of the physical and 
intellectual man were secondary to that moral 
courage and that absolute rectitude of purpose 
which even his bitterest opponents conceded to 
Charles Sumner. There is in Weiss's "Life 
of Theodore Parker" a remarkable letter ad- 
dressed by him to Mr. Sumner after his elec- 
tion, and dated April 26, 185 1. It is as follows : 

" Perhaps you had better lay this away till 
Sunday, for I am going to preach. You told 
me once that you were in morals, not politics. 
Now I hope you will show that you are still in 
morals, although in politics. I hope you will 
be the senator with a conscience. The capital 
error of all our politicians is this : with under- 
standing and political sagacity, with cunning 
and power to manage men in the heroic degree, 
[yet] in moral power, in desire of the true 
and the right — ' first good, first perfect, and 
first fair' — they are behind the carpenters and 
the blacksmiths. ... I consider that Massachu- 
setts has put you where you have no right to 
consult for the ease or the reputation of your- 
self, but for the eternal right. All of our 
statesmen build on the opinion of to-day a house 
that is to be admired to-morrow, and the next 
day to be torn down with hooting. I hope you 
will build on the Rock of Ages, and look to 
eternity for your justification." 



SUMNER 289 

He did look to eternity, and has now his 
justification in it. But I think Plutarch's 
"Lives" can show nothing more simple and 
noble than this counsel of Parker to Sumner, 
or than the life by which Sumner gave answer 
to it. 

It is further to be noticed that his moral 
standard did not merely aim at ends, but ex- 
tended to means also. The long course of the 
anti-slavery agitation has left us men identi- 
fied with many of the noblest aims, whose 
low choice of means has yet plunged them 
into inconsistency and identified them with 
corrupt and debasing ways. No such stain 
rested on Sumner. Can any one fancy him 
as going about buttonholing politicians to aid in 
his own reelection, or pulling any wires less 
visible than the telegraphic wires which bore 
his speeches, or appearing on the platform of a 
political caucus marshaling people to vote for 
himself ? 

Let me not shrink from saying something, 
lastly, as to the limitations of Charles Sumner. 
Dr. Channing says that if a man is not great 
enough to be painted as he is he had better not 
be painted at all. It is perhaps fortunate that no 
man combines all points of superiority. " Care 
is taken," says Goethe, "that the trees shall 
not grow up into the sky." If Sumner had 



290 CONTEMPORARIES 

combined, for instance, the extraordinary quali- 
ties of his own nature with a personal fascina- 
tion like that of Henry Clay, he might have 
been so powerful as to be dangerous to the 
liberties of the country. Who knows ? But 
he had not this combination. This last inex- 
plicable spell of personal magnetism was not 
his. He convinced, persuaded, commanded, 
was respected and loved. But when John Ran- 
dolph, after fighting against Henry Clay all his 
life, caused himself to be raised from his death- 
bed and brought into the House, merely that 
he might hear the voice of his old opponent 
once more, it was a kind of personal triumph 
such as Sumner never achieved. Yet his na- 
ture was very homogeneous, complete in its 
kind, and his very defects were "the defects 
of his qualities," in the French phrase. His 
lack of humor helped his earnestness, but took 
from it the needful relief. His occasional 
exaggeration, as in dealing with England and 
with Grant, was the exaggeration of a practiced 
rhetorician, so familiar with his own weapons 
that he forgets their weight. His self-assertion 
was the frank statement of an unquestioned 
superiority, which a less honest man or one 
of more sense of humor would easily have con- 
cealed. I asked him, near the end of his life, 
in his library at Washington, what he thought 



SUMNER 291 

the Supreme Court would make of the claim 
that the 14th and 15th amendments had already 
enacted woman suffrage. He drew himself up, 
in his stately way, and said simply : " I suppose 
I know more about judges than any man in 
America." The self-assertion sounded almost 
startling, until he went back to his early know- 
ledge of Marshall and Story, and sketched rap- 
idly the leading judges of later years, till he 
had fairly established his claim. Then he 
ended by saying that there were two ways in 
which almost any judge could regard almost any 
question — according to the letter or to the 
spirit ; and that whenever any man on the Su- 
preme Bench was heartily of the opinion that 
women ought to vote he would probably have 
little difficulty in seeing authority for woman 
suffrage in these constitutional amendments. 

It is impossible to say how far the alleged 
want of magnetism or sympathetic attractive- 
ness in Mr. Sumner's public or private manner 
may have been due to a certain loneliness in 
his life and to the want of the amenities of 
home and children. Yet it is very incorrect to 
say, as has sometimes been said, that he was 
indifferent to persons and cared only for prin- 
ciples. I have never known in public life so 
prompt and faithful a correspondent ; or one 
so ready to espouse the cause of some indi- 



292 CONTEMPORARIES 

vidual man or woman who needed aid. He had 
no band of henchmen, no one who had been 
won to support him for value received ; but the 
blessings of the poor, the friendless, the power- 
less were his. 

It remains for us to remember that his suc- 
cessors are not to be found among those who 
merely sound his name and record his deeds, 
but among those who are doing what he left un- 
done and bearing the cross he bore. Laurels 
in battle do not come to him who, when the 
standard-bearer falls, only pauses with bowed 
head to say, " What a man he was," but rather 
to him who grasps the falling flag, and, per- 
haps, himself falling, hands it to another, till it 
has passed through as many hands as there 
are survivors in the regiment. When Charles 
Sumner came forward into political life, it was 
supposed that all the great questions were set- 
tled, or, at least, stated, until he brought the 
slavery question into politics and made it take 
precedence of them all. The same delusion 
exists now. The questions that still remain 
unsettled — the rights of woman, the rights of 
labor, the principles of temperance legislation — 
these may yet furnish duties as arduous, tests 
as severe as any that Sumner knew. It is said 
of Hereward, " the last of the Saxons," that 
if there had been six such men as he in Eng- 



SUMNER 293 

land the Normans would never have entered 
it, and had there been ten such men the Nor- 
mans would have been driven out. Our Here- 
ward has fallen ; let us see who are the other 
nine. 



DR. HOWE'S ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER 

In view of the world-wide fame of Dr. Sam- 
uel Gridley Howe as a teacher of the blind and 
a friend of Greek liberty, it must not be for- 
gotten that in the anti-slavery movement also, 
he played a part wholly characteristic and al- 
most unique. He was a natural crusader or 
paladin ; a man in whom every call to duty took 
a certain chivalrous aspect ; who seemed a little 
out of place in a world of Quakers or non-re- 
sistants, even when men of those types were 
actually leading in the bravest enterprises of 
the time. While most of those around him 
were either indifferent to the wrong, on the one 
side, or eschewed carnal weapons on the other, 
he could not forget the days when he had been 
surgeon in the Greek war for independence, or 
had seen the inside of a Prussian prison for 
having been president of a Polish committee 
in Paris. 

An eminent abolitionist once told me that on 
visiting Dr. Howe soon after his marriage, — 
which took place in 1843, — the latter said that 
in his opinion some movement of actual force 



DR. HOWE'S ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER 295 

would yet have to be made against slavery, and 
that but for the new duties he had assumed by 
his marriage, he should very likely undertake 
some such enterprise himself. His whole anti- 
slavery career was predicted in those words. 
They showed him as he was, a perfectly chival- 
rous spirit, working under the limitations of 
many duties and cares. 

This remark must have been made about 
1844. It does not appear that he then enrolled 
himself in any public way among abolitionists. 
I do not even find his name in the list of the 
Massachusetts State Texas Committee, formed 
in October, 1845 ; but at the first fugitive-slave 
case, he stepped at once to the very front. 
Many still living will remember the magnificent 
meeting held at Faneuil Hall September 24, 
1846, "to consider the recent case of kidnap- 
ping on our soil." John Quincy Adams presided 
on that occasion, he being then in his eightieth 
year, and saying that if he had but one day to 
live he would use it to be there. Dr. Howe 
called the meeting to order, and organized the 
whole, the letters of invited guests being ad- 
dressed to him. He also made the opening 
speech, of which every sentence was a sword- 
thrust. John A. Andrew, then a young lawyer, 
read the resolutions ; Sumner, Charles Francis 
Adams, and the two Phillipses spoke; and a 



296 CONTEMPORARIES 

Vigilance Committee of forty was finally chosen 
with Dr. Howe for a chairman. That Vigi- 
lance Committee, afterward enlarged, contin- 
ued in existence through all the fugitive slave 
period; and the history of Boston will be in- 
complete until the records of that committee 
are published. 

Dr. Howe was nominated for Congress that 
same year against Mr. Winthrop, but he was 
defeated, and his main services lay outside of 
politics. The fugitive-slave period in Massa- 
chusetts differed from any revolutionary period 
before or since in this, that it fell in a time of 
awkward transition from physical to spiritual 
weapons ; and while the air was full of revolu- 
tion, almost all the revolutionists were ham- 
pered by reverence for law, or else by non- 
resistance. Most of the Garrisonian abolition- 
ists were non-combatants on principle ; while, 
on the other hand, the voting abolitionists had 
a controlling desire to keep within the law. 
Even Theodore Parker, who stood between these 
two classes, wished people to rescue slaves 
" with only the arms their mother gave them." 
The result was that among all the anti-slavery 
men in Boston, there was hardly a dozen who 
had quite made up their minds to fight. Of 
that small number, it is needless to say that 
Dr. Howe was one. Six weeks in a Prussian 



DR. HOWE'S ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER 297 

prison were as good as a liberal education in 
the way of bearing arms. 

One of the most remarkable meetings held in 
Boston, in those days, was one which occurred 
at the Tremont Temple during the Sims case, 
April 9, 185 1. Horace Mann had consented to 
preside on condition that the meeting should 
be pledged to strictly legal measures, — but 
Dr. Howe, who regretted this scrupulousness, 
planned to have the evening meeting less re- 
stricted. Unluckily the material of the after- 
noon meeting was by far the more fiery, because 
it included many delegations from the country 
towns, who were as a rule more ardent than 
the city audiences, and who went home on this 
occasion disappointed. After one speech in 
especial, as Dr. Howe afterward said, " the 
country was at the verge of a revolution," for 
which, I think, he himself was ready ; but the 
next speaker threw cold water on it, the excite- 
ment passed, the evening meeting was tame, 
and nothing was done. A plan of rescue was 
afterward formed, but was defeated by putting 
up a grating at the window of Sims's cell. 

Three years later came the Burns affair. 
During the interval, or part of it, Dr. Howe 
had been editing the " Commonwealth ; " the 
" coalition party " of Democrats and Anti- 
slavery Whigs had been successful in the State, 



298 CONTEMPORARIES 

and the public mind had been a good deal edu- 
cated. Still, when a meeting of the Vigilance 
Committee was held, on the day of the Burns 
riot, May 26, 1854, it was found impossible to 
collect even twenty names pledged to physical 
resistance under any single leader, and even 
after a stirring speech by Dr. Howe, it ended in 
appointing only an executive committee of six 
men, afterward increased to seven. Napoleon 
said that there was but one thing worse for an 
army than a bad general, and that was two 
good generals. We had seven ! It was worse, 
in that respect, than Bull Run. 

After the fugitive - slave cases, the seat of 
anti-slavery excitement was transferred for a 
time to Kansas. Before the civil war began, 
Dr. Howe was (in 1854) one of the original 
corporators in the Emigrant Aid Society, by 
which it was hoped to secure that territory 
peaceably to freedom. Then came a time, in 
1856, when that proved impossible, and, as you 
may read in Theodore Parker's letters, " Dr. 
Howe and others raised $5,000 one day last 
week to buy Sharpe's rifles." Parties were then 
organized — still emigrant parties, but armed 
by the organizing committees — in Boston and 
Worcester. When the Missouri River was 
blocked up by the "border ruffians," as they 
were called, and one of the first parties was 



DR. HOWE'S ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER 299 

turned back, Dr. Howe went to St. Louis to 
meet them, and to reorganize the scattered 
forces. Through all that struggle, no Eastern 
man, save George L. Stearns, — God bless his 
memory ! — did more to save Kansas to free- 
dom than he. I think the State Kansas Com- 
mittee was organized at the Blind Asylum office 
on Bromfield Street. Almost every one who 
came in or out of that office was blind ; but Dr. 
Howe's keen sight restored the balance, for he 
could see beyond the Missouri. 

The next anti-slavery milestone was when, 
in 1858, John Brown came eastward. A keen 
thinker has said that every path on earth may 
lead to the dwelling of a hero ; and of course 
the track was plain enough between John 
Brown's door and that of Dr. Howe. Few, if 
any, knew Captain Brown's plans in full detail ; 
but the project of a slave stampede on a large 
scale was quite in Dr. Howe's line, and he, with 
others, entered into it cordially. Then came 
the betrayal by Hugh Forbes, which so dis- 
turbed John Brown's Eastern friends that his 
"marching on" was delayed for more than a 
year, — a delay approved neither by Brown him- 
self nor Dr. Howe, but accepted as inevitable 
by both. After the failure of the Harper's 
Ferry attempt, Dr. Howe left the United States 
for a short time, — needlessly, as he afterward 



300 CONTEMPORARIES 

thought, — and was later examined at Washing- 
ton before a congressional committee, but with 
no result. There was some difference of opin- 
ion among John Brown's friends as to their 
duty after his death ; but Dr. Howe was never 
much troubled by the necessity of satisfying 
the consciences of others, if he could only 
satisfy his own. 

A year or more later, I remember him as aid- 
ing, in the Music Hall, and in the neighboring 
streets, to ward off danger from Wendell Phil- 
lips during a series of riotous days. Again, on 
the very day after the attack on our troops in 
Baltimore, he threw himself with his old hearti- 
ness into a project formed among us, of taking 
a hint from John Brown and putting a guerrilla 
party instantly into Virginia, thus saving Wash- 
ington by kindling a back fire. The steps 
promptly taken in recruiting troops prevented 
this project from being carried farther, but it 
was precisely the scheme to suit Dr. Howe. 
His services during the civil war itself, I leave 
to others. 

His anti-slavery life was, in short, that of a 
man of chivalrous nature, with a constitutional 
love for freedom and for daring enterprises, 
taking more interest in action than in mere 
agitation, and having, moreover, other fields of 
usefulness which divided his zeal. With a pe- 



DR. HOWE'S ANTI-SLAVERY CAREER 301 

culiarly direct and thrilling sort of eloquence, 
and a style of singular condensation and power, 
abrupt, almost impetuous, — like a sword with 
no ornament but the dents upon the blade, — 
he yet knew that the chief end of life is action, 
and not thought. With all his intellectual ac- 
complishments, he would, as Thoreau said of 
John Brown, " have left a Greek accent slant- 
ing the wrong way, and righted up a fallen 
man." 



GRANT 

When any great historical event is past, fame 
soon begins to concentrate itself on one or two 
leading figures, dropping inexorably all minor 
ones. How furious was the strife waged in 
England over West India emancipation, and 
then over the abolition of the corn - laws ! 
Time, money, intellect, reputation, were freely 
bestowed for both these enterprises. Those 
great sacrifices are now forgotten ; the very 
names of those who made them are lost ; pos- 
terity associates only Wilberforce and Clarkson 
with the one agitation, Cobden and Bright with 
the other. When we turn to the war which 
saved the Union and brought emancipation, we 
find that the roll of fame is similarly narrowing. 
There is scarcely an American under thirty who 
is familiar with even the name of John P. Hale, 
whom Garrison called "the Abdiel of New 
Hampshire;" or of Henry Wilson, Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States, and historian of that 
slave power which he did so much toward over- 
throwing. The acute and decorous Seward, 
the stately Chase, the imperious Stanton, even 



GRANT 303 

the high-minded and commanding Sumner, 
with his reservoirs of knowledge, — all these 
are steadily fading from men's memories. Fifty 
years hence, perhaps, the mind of the nation 
will distinctly recognize only two figures as 
connected with all that great upheaval, — Lin- 
coln and Grant. 

Of these two, Grant will have one immeasur- 
able advantage, in respect to fame, — that he 
wrote his own memoirs. A man who has done 
this can never become a myth ; his individuality 
is as sure of preservation as is that of Caesar. 
Something must of course depend upon the 
character of such an autobiography : it may by 
some mischance reveal new weaknesses only, or 
reaffirm and emphasize those previously known. 
Here again Grant is fortunate : his book is one 
of the greatest of his victories, and those who 
most criticised his two administrations may now 
be heard doubting whether they did, after all, 
any justice to the man. These memoirs have 
that first and highest quality both of literature 
and manhood, simplicity. Without a trace of 
attitudinizing or a suspicion of special pleading, 
written in a style so plain and terse that it sug- 
gests the reluctant conversation of a naturally 
reticent man, they would have a charm if the 
author had never emerged from obscurity except 
to write them. Considered as the records of the 



3 04 CONTEMPORARIES 

foremost soldier of his time, they are unique 
and of inestimable value. 

This value is reinforced, at every point, by a 
certain typical quality which the book possesses. 
As with Lincoln, so with Grant, the reader hails 
with delight this exhibition of the resources of 
the Average American. It is not in the least 
necessary for the success of republican govern- 
ment that it should keep great men, so to 
speak, on tap all the time; it is rather our 
theory to be guided in public affairs by the 
general good sense of the community. What 
we need to know is whether leaders will be 
forthcoming for specific duties when needed ; 
and in this the civil war confirmed the popu- 
lar faith, and indeed developed it almost into 
fatalism. It is this representative character of 
the book which fascinates ; the way in which 
destiny, looking about for material, took Grant 
and moulded him for a certain work. Ap- 
parently, there was not in him, during his 
boyhood, the slightest impulse towards a 
military life. He consented to go to West 
Point merely that he might visit New York 
and Philadelphia — that done, he would have 
been glad of any steamboat or railroad accident 
that should make it for a time impossible to 
enter the Academy. The things that he enj oyed 
were things that had scarcely the slightest 



GRANT 305 

reference to the career that lay unconsciously 
before him. Sydney Smith had a brother, known 
as Bobus, who bore through life this one dis- 
tinction : that he had been thrashed as a boy 
by a schoolmate who subsequently became the 
Duke of Wellington. "He began with you," 
said Sydney Smith, "and ended with Napo- 
leon." Grant began by breaking in a trouble- 
some horse and ended with the Southern Con- 
federacy. 

There is always a certain piquant pleasure in 
the visible disproportion of means to ends. All 
Grant's early preparation or non-preparation for 
military life inspires the same feeling of gratified 
surprise with which we read that the young 
Napoleon, at the military school of St. Cyr, 
was simply reported as "very healthy." At 
West Point, Grant was at the foot of his class 
in the tactics, and he was dropped from sergeant 
to private in the junior year. A French or Ger- 
man officer would have looked with contempt 
on a military cadet who never had been a sports- 
man, and did not think he should ever have 
the courage to fight a duel. It would seem as 
if fate had the same perplexing problem in 
choosing its man for commander-in-chief that 
every war governor found in his choice of 
colonels and captains. Who could tell, how 
was any one to predict, what sort of soldier 



306 CONTEMPORARIES 

any citizen would be ? Grant himself, when he 
came to appoint three men in Illinois as staff 
officers, failed, by his own statement, in two of 
the selections. What traits, what tendencies, 
shown in civil life, furnished the best guar- 
antee for military abilities ? None, perhaps, 
that could be definitely named, except habitual 
leadership in physical exercises. Of all po- 
sitions, the captaincy of a college crew or a 
baseball club was surest to supply qualities 
available for military command. But even for 
athletic exercises, except so far as horses were 
concerned, Grant had no recorded taste. 

Nor does his career in the Mexican war 
seem to have settled the point — and his ani- 
mated sketch of that event, though one of 
the most graphic ever written, fails to give any 
signal proof of great attributes of leadership. 
This part of his book is especially interesting 
as showing the really small scale of the military 
events which then looked large. It is hard 
for us to believe that General Taylor invaded 
Mexico with three thousand men, a force no 
greater than was commanded at different times 
by dozens of mere colonels during the war 
for the Union. It is equally hard to believe 
that these men carried flint-lock muskets, and 
that their heaviest ordnance consisted of two 
eighteen - pound guns, while the Mexican ar- 



GRANT 307 

tillery was easily evaded by simply stepping 
out of the way of the balls. It is difficult to 
convince ourselves that General Taylor never 
wore uniform, and habitually sat upon his 
horse with both feet hanging on the same side. 
Yet it was amid so little pomp and circumstance 
as this that Grant first practiced war. The 
experience developed in him sufficient moral 
insight to see, all along, that it was a contest 
in which his own country was wrong ; and the 
knowledge he gained of the characters of his 
fellow officers was simply invaluable when he 
came to fight against some of them. At Fort 
Donelson he knew that with any force, how- 
ever small, he could march within gunshot of 
General Pillow's intrenchments, — and when 
General Buckner said to him, after the sur- 
render, that if he had been in command the 
Union army would not have got up to the fort 
so easily, Grant replied that if Buckner had 
been in command he should not have tried to 
do it in the way he did. 

He was trained also by his Mexican campaign 
in that habit of simple and discriminating justice 
to an opponent which is so vital in war. The 
enormous advantages gained by the Americans 
over superior numbers during that contest have 
always been rather a puzzle to the reader. 
Grant makes it clear when he says that, though 



3 o8 CONTEMPORARIES 

the Mexicans often "stood up as well as any 
troops ever did," they were a mere mob for 
want of trained supervision. He adds, with 
some humor, " The trouble seemed to be the 
lack of experience among the officers, which 
led them, after a certain period, to simply 
quit without being whipped, but because they 
had fought enough." He notes also that our 
losses in those battles were relatively far 
greater than theirs, and that for this reason, 
and because of the large indemnity paid at last, 
the Mexicans still celebrate Chapultepec and 
Molino del Rey as their victories, very much 
as Americans, under circumstances somewhat 
similar, celebrate the battle of Bunker Hill. 
Finally, Grant has the justice to see that, as 
Mexico has now a standing army and trained 
officers, the war of 1846-48 would be an impos- 
sibility in this generation. 

When Grant comes to deal with the war for 
the Union itself, his prevailing note of simplicity 
gives a singularly quiet tone to the narrative. 
In his hands the tales of Shiloh and Donelson 
are told with far less of sound and fury than 
the boys' football game in "Tom Brown at 
Rugby." In reading the accounts of these 
victories, it seems as if anybody might have 
won them ; just as the traveler, looking from 
Chamonix at the glittering slopes of Mont 



GRANT 309 

Blanc, feels as if there were nothing to do but 
to walk right up. Did any one in history ever 
accomplish so much as Grant with so little con- 
scious expenditure of force, or meet dangers and 
worries so imperturbably ? " I told them that 
I was not disturbed." " Why there should have 
been a panic I do not see." This is the sort of 
remark that occurs at intervals throughout the 
memoirs, and usually at the crisis of affairs ; 
and this denotes the conquering temperament. 
Perhaps the climax of this expression is found 
when Grant says incidentally, " While a battle 
is raging, one can see his enemy mowed down 
by the thousand, or even the ten thousand, with 
great composure; but after the battle these 
scenes are distressing, and one is naturally dis- 
posed to do as much to alleviate the suffering 
of an enemy as [of] a friend." It is the word 
" composure " that is here characteristic ; many 
men would share in the emotion, but very few 
would describe it by this placid phrase. Again, 
the same quality is shown when, in describing the 
siege of Vicksburg, after "the nearest approach 
to a council of war " he ever held, Grant pithily 
adds, " Against the general and almost unani- 
mous judgment of the council, I sent the fol- 
lowing letter," — this containing essentially the 
terms that were accepted. Indeed, it is needless 
to point out how imperturbable must have been 



3io CONTEMPORARIES 

the character of the man who would take with 
him on a campaign his oldest son, a boy of 
twelve, and say of him at the end, " My son . . . 
caused no anxiety either to me or to his mother, 
who was at home. He looked out for himself* 
and was in every battle of the campaign." 

This phlegmatic habit made General Grant 
in some respects uninteresting, as compared, 
for instance, with the impulsive and exuberant 
Sherman ; but it gave him some solid and ad- 
mirable minor qualities. " Our army," said 
Uncle Toby, " swore terribly in Flanders ; " but 
the commander of the great Union army, by 
his own statement, was " not aware of ever hav- 
ing used a profane expletive " in his life. There 
is no more curious and inexplicable character- 
istic than the use of language. Lincoln im- 
presses one as representing, on the whole, a 
higher type of character than Grant — more 
sympathetic, more sensitive, more poetic. Yet 
Lincoln would tell an indelicate story with the 
zest of a bar-room lounger, while Grant, by the 
general testimony of his staff officers, disliked 
and discouraged everything of the kind. There 
is a mediaeval tale of a monk who was asked by 
a peasant to teach him a psalm, and he chose 
that beginning with the verse, " I will take heed 
to my ways that I offend not with my tongue." 
Having learned thus much, the peasant went 



GRANT 311 

away, saying that he would try and practice it 
before going farther ; but he never returned, 
not having succeeded in living up to the first 
verse. Grant was apparently more successful. 
Mere imperturbability would, however, be 
useless to a commander without that indefin- 
able quality known as military instinct ; and it 
was this which Grant possessed in a higher de- 
gree, probably, than any other man of his time. 
Like all instinct, it is a thing hard to distin- 
guish from the exceedingly rapid putting of this 
and that together ; as where Grant at Fort Don- 
elson, finding that the knapsacks of the slain 
enemy were filled with rations, saw at once that 
they were trying to get away, and renewed 
the attack successfully. Again, when General 
Buell had some needless anxiety at Nashville 
and sent for large reinforcements, Grant told 
him, on arriving at the scene of action, that he 
was mistaken ; the enemy was not advancing, 
but retreating. General Buell informed him 
that there was fighting in progress only ten or 
twelve miles away ; upon which Grant said that 
this fighting was undoubtedly with the rear 
guard of the Confederates, who were trying to 
carry off with them all the stores they could, 
> — and so it proved. Indeed, it was from an 
equally prompt recognition of what was really 
needed that he pressed on Vicksburg at all. 



3 I2 CONTEMPORARIES 

Sherman, usually classed as daring and adven- 
turous, dissuaded him, and wished him to hold 
fast to his base of supplies. Grant, usually 
esteemed cautious, insisted on going on, saying 
that the whole country needed a decisive vic- 
tory just then, even if won at a great risk. 

The very extent of Grant's military command 
has in one respect impaired his reputation ; be- 
cause he marshaled more men than his oppo- 
nents, he has been assumed to be less great as 
a soldier than they were. The " Saturday Re- 
view," for instance, forgetting that interior lines 
may make a small force practically equivalent 
to a large one, treats Grant's success, to this 
day, as merely the irresistible preponderance of 
greater numbers. But it was precisely here 
that Grant was tested as Lee was not. To say 
that it is easier to succeed with a larger force 
than a smaller one is like saying that it is easier 
to get across the country with a four-in-hand 
than in a pony phaeton : it is all very true if 
the road is smooth and straight and the team 
well broken ; but if the horses are balky and 
the road a wilderness, the inexperienced driver 
will be safer with a single steed. The one thing 
that crushes a general of secondary ability is 
to have more men than he knows how to han- 
dle ; his divisions simply get into one another's 
way, and his four-in-hand is in a hopeless tan- 



GRANT 313 

gle. Many a man has failed with a great force 
who would have been superb with a Spartan 
band. Garibaldi himself did not fit well into 
the complex mechanism of a German army. 
" Captain," said a bewildered volunteer naval 
lieutenant, accustomed to handling his own 
small crew upon the quarter-deck of his mer- 
chant vessel, — " captain, if you will just go 
below, and take two thirds of these men with 
you, I '11 have this ship about in no time." It 
is possible that Lee might have commanded a 
million men as effectively as Grant did, but we 
shall never know, for that brilliant general had 
no opportunity to make the experiment. Mean- 
while, it is a satisfaction to observe that the 
most willing European critic can impair the 
fame of one great American soldier only by 
setting up that of another. 

Which is the more interesting matter of 
study for posterity in the career of a great gen- 
eral, the course of his campaigns or the devel- 
opment of his character ? The latter half of 
Grant's life may be read from either of these 
points of view; but probably its greatest and 
most lasting interest will be from its elucida- 
tion of the personal traits that marked the man, 
— its biographical rather than its historical 
aspect. Behind the battles lay the genius or 
individual quality, whatever it was, which fought 



314 CONTEMPORARIES 

those battles ; and which, in the tremendous 
competition of military selection, left this man 
above all his immediate competitors in his own 
field. Even in regard to the lives of Caesar 
and Napoleon, we can observe that for one per- 
son who enters into the details of the strategy, 
there are ten who are interested in the evolu- 
tion of the man. But in the case of Grant a 
new and peculiar interest is developed, for this 
reason, that he is the first great and conquer- 
ing commander developed by modern republican 
institutions. This makes it almost certain that 
he will be one of the monumental men in his- 
tory ; and there is therefore no problem of the 
kind more interesting than to consider his char- 
acter in the almost unerring light thrown by 
autobiography, and to comprehend what man- 
ner of man it is that has been added, in our 
own day, to those of whom Plutarch wrote. 

It is noticeable, in Grant's Personal Memoirs, 
that the second volume has the same sim- 
plicity which was shown in the first. It would 
not have been strange if the habit of writing 
about himself — an exercise so wholly new to 
Grant — had by degrees impaired this quality 
as the book went on ; but it really characterizes 
the later pages as much as the earlier, and the 
work might, so far as concerns this feature, 
have been struck off at a white heat. The 



GRANT 315 

author never poses nor attitudinizes — never 
wavers for an instant from his purpose to tell 
plain facts in the plainest possible way. The 
tremendous scenes through which he has passed 
never overwhelm or blur his statement ; he tells 
of the manoeuvring of hundreds of thousands 
of men as quietly as if he were narrating a con- 
test of fishing-boats at Long Branch. When he 
describes that famous interview between him- 
self and General Lee, in which was settled the 
permanent destiny of the American nation, the 
tale is told far more quietly than the ordinary 
reporter would describe the negotiations for a 
college rowing-match. Such a description, read 
in connection with Lincoln's Gettysburg ad- 
dress, shows that simplicity stands first among 
all literary gifts ; that the greater the occasion, 
the more apt men are to be simple ; and sug- 
gests that no time or place has ever surpassed, 
in this respect, the examples left behind by 
these two modern American men. 

Next to the unconscious exhibition of char- 
acter given by every man in writing about him- 
self comes the light indirectly thrown upon his 
own nature by his way of judging of others. In 
this respect, also, Grant's quietness of tone 
places him at great advantage. He sometimes 
praises ardently, but he censures very moder- 
ately. Of Bragg' s disastrous tactics at Chatta- 



316 CONTEMPORARIES 

nooga he only says, " I have never been able to 
see the wisdom of this move." Of Buell's re- 
fusal to accept a command under Sherman, on 
the ground that he had previously ranked Sher- 
man, Grant says, " The worst excuse a soldier 
can give for declining service is that he once 
ranked the commander he is ordered to report 
to." Again, when a question arose between 
Palmer and Schofield, as to whether the latter 
had a right to command the former, the com- 
ment is, " If he [Palmer] did raise this question 
while an action was going on, that act alone was 
exceedingly reprehensible." 

That besetting sin of military commanders, 
the habit of throwing the responsibility for fail- 
ure upon subordinates, never seems to tempt 
Grant. In speaking of Burnside's losing an im- 
portant advantage at Spottsylvania, he says, " I 
attach no blame to Burnside for this, but I do 
to myself, for not having a staff officer with 
him to report to me his position." When we 
compare this guardedness of tone with the 
sweeping authoritativeness which marks many 
of our civilian critics of campaigns, the differ- 
ence is certainly most gratifying. The only 
matters that rouse Grant to anything like wrath 
in the telling are those acts which imply crimes 
against humanity, like the massacre of colored 
troops at Fort Pillow ; and in this case he sim- 



GRANT 317 

ply characterizes Forrest's report of the affair 
as something " which shocks humanity to read." 
He does not even allow himself the luxury of 
vehemence against fate, or fortune, or inevita- 
ble destiny. Even when he describes his im- 
mense local obstacles in the country round 
Spottsylvania, — a heavily timbered region, full 
of little streams surrounded by wooded and 
marshy bottom lands, — he gently says, " It 
was a much better country to conduct a de- 
fensive campaign in than an offensive one." 
The man who can speak charitably of Virginia 
swamps may certainly lay claim to that virtue 
which is chief among the blessed three. 

The severest test offered in Grant's memoirs, 
as to his judgment on men, is in his estimate 
of one whom he had allowed, in the opinion 
of many, to be most grievously wronged, — the 
late Major- General Gouverneur K. Warren. 
The great civil war caused a vast multitude of 
deaths, directly and indirectly, but among all 
these there was but one conspicuous and un- 
questionable instance of broken heart, — in the 
case of that high-minded and most estimable 
man who was removed by Sheridan from the 
command of an army corps just before the 
battle of Five Forks, and who spent the rest 
of his life in vainly endeavoring to secure 
even an investigation before a Court of In- 



318 CONTEMPORARIES 

quiry. All who remember General Warren's 
refined and melancholy face, with its permanent 
look of hopeless and crushing sorrow, must have 
turned eagerly to those pages of the Personal 
Memoirs in which his case was mentioned. 
Instead of evading the subject, Grant met it 
frankly. It has always been supposed among 
the friends of General Warren that the main 
objection to ordering a Court of Inquiry in his 
case was the known affection of the commander- 
in-chief for Sheridan, and his willingness to 
let Warren be sacrificed rather than expose his 
favorite officer to blame. Those who have read 
this book will be satisfied that no such theory 
will suffice. It is upon himself that Grant 
takes the main responsibility of Warren's dis- 
placement. He had made, as he avers, a careful 
study of Warren's peculiar temperament, long 
before this event occurred. He had at first 
felt in him a confidence so great that he would 
have put him in Meade's place had that officer 
fallen (ii. 216), but he came gradually to a very 
different opinion. He always regarded him as 
a "gallant soldier, an able man," and always 
thought him "thoroughly imbued with the 
solemnity and importance of the duty he had 
to perform." But he thus analyzes his character 
(ii. 214) : — 

" Warren's difficulty was twofold : when he 



GRANT 319 

received an order to do anything, it would at 
once occur to his mind how all the balance of 
the army should be engaged so as to properly 
cooperate with him. His ideas were generally 
good, but he would forget that the person giv- 
ing him orders had thought of others at the 
time he had of him. In like manner, when 
he did get ready to execute an order, after 
giving most intelligent instructions to division 
commanders, he would go in with one division, 
holding the others in reserve, until he could 
superintend their movements in person also, 
— forgetting that division commanders could 
execute an order without his presence. His 
difficulty was constitutional and beyond his con- 
trol. He was an officer of superior ability, 
quick perceptions, and personal courage to ac- 
complish anything that could be done with a 
small command" (ii. 214-15). 

This certainly gives a very clear analysis of 
a certain type of character; and whether the 
observer was correct or incorrect in his diag- 
nosis, he was bound to act upon it. It further 
appears that Warren was again and again a 
source of solicitude to Grant. In some cases 
he did admirably, as at Cold Harbor. "The 
enemy charged Warren three separate times 
with vigor, but were repulsed each time with 
loss. There was no officer more capable, nor 



320 CONTEMPORARIES 

one more prompt in acting, than Warren, when 
the enemy forced him into it " (ii. 266). Again, 
at the siege of Petersburg, Warren obeyed 
orders perfectly, when Burnside paid no atten- 
tion to him (ii. 313). Nevertheless Grant was 
" very much afraid," — taking all things into 
consideration, — " that at the last moment he 
would fail Sheridan." He accordingly sent a 
staff officer to Sheridan to say that, although 
he personally liked Warren, it would not do to 
let personal feeling stand in the way of success, 
and " if his removal was necessary to success " 
Sheridan must not hesitate. On this authority 
the removal was made ; and Grant only blames 
himself for not having assigned Warren, long 
before, to some other field of duty (ii. 445). 

All this throws light not merely upon Grant's 
sustaining Sheridan in the removal of Warren, 
but on his uniform refusal afterwards to order 
any Court of Inquiry. This was the one thing 
for which Warren and his friends longed ; and 
it was always assumed by them that it was re- 
fused merely in order to shield Sheridan. Yet 
it was the one thing which would have been, 
from Grant's point of view, utterly useless. 
When an officer is removed for an actual moral 
fault, as cowardice, drunkenness, or disobedi- 
ence of orders, a formal investigation may settle 
the matter ; for it is then a question of definite 



GRANT 321 

charges. But where a man of the highest char- 
acter turns out to be, from mere peculiarities 
of temperament, unsuited to a certain post, his 
displacement may be just as necessary ; nor 
can war be carried on in any other way. The 
stake is too tremendous, the interests of the 
nation are too momentous for the matter to rest 
on any other basis. Nor is it essential that the 
superior officer should be assumed as infallible ; 
under these circumstances he must do the best 
he can. Had there been a Court of Inquiry, 
nothing would have been established except that 
Grant and Sheridan honestly believed that War- 
ren was not the man for the place, and that they 
therefore set him aside, as they might have 
done, under like circumstances, with any other 
officer in himself estimable, — as, for instance, 
Burnside. Grant may have sincerely thought 
that to say this before a Court of Inquiry would 
really hurt Warren more than Sheridan, and 
that it was better for the sufferer himself to let 
the matter rest where it lay. This was prob- 
ably mistaken kindness, if kindness it was. A 
man smarting under a real or supposed injus- 
tice always prefers an investigation, even if the 
result of that tribunal is sure to be against him. 
Nor is it sure that it would have been techni- 
cally against Warren. The considerations which 
influenced Grant and Sheridan were to some 



322 CONTEMPORARIES 

extent intangible, and General Humphreys has 
shown that on some points they were mistaken, 
and Warren had done rightly. But the real 
question is whether Grant was also mistaken 
in his final analysis of Warren's character ; and 
it is upon this, after all, that the whole thing 
turned. 

This particular instance has been thus empha- 
sized because it is, more than any other, a test 
of Grant's habit of justice to his subordinates ; 
a quality in which, we are bound to say, he sur- 
passes almost all writers of military autobio- 
graphies. So far as justice to himself is con- 
cerned, he could not have well helped doing it, 
had he tried, for any man shows himself as he 
is, either willingly or unwillingly, when he tells 
his own story. Nor is there any evidence that 
he sought to help it. 

The latter part of his book bears literary 
marks of the tremendous strain under which it 
was written, but it bears no moral marks of it ; 
and he keeps clear, from beginning to end, of 
all that ill-concealed enthusiasm about himself 
which is the common bane of autobiographies. 
He is perfectly content to stand for what he 
was, — a combination of plain and almost com- 
monplace qualities, developed to a very high 
power, and becoming at length the equivalent 
of what we call military genius. This, at least, 



GRANT 323 

is the inference to be drawn from his book. 
Whether he was or was not, in the way of dis- 
tinctive genius, a greater man than he thought 
himself must be left for the military historians 
of a future generation to determine. In any 
case the spectacle of an eminent commander 
who habitually underrates himself is rare enough 
to be very pleasing. 

This process of self-development is never, of 
course, directly stated, or even intimated, by 
Grant himself. Had it been otherwise the qual- 
ity of unconsciousness would have been wanting. 
But the adaptation of supreme good sense to 
the conditions and exigencies of army life may 
constantly be traced here, not merely between 
the lines, but in maxim after maxim, each an 
obiter dictum y given with a homely simplicity 
that half disguises its real wisdom. What Lin- 
coln would have put into an anecdote or local 
proverb, — as when, for instance, he expressed 
his unwillingness to swap horses while cross- 
ing a stream or to cross Fox River before he 
reached it, — Grant condenses into some plain 
statement : " Accident often decides the fate 
of battle" (ii. 212). "It would be bad to be 
defeated in two battles fought on the same day ; 
but it would not be bad to win them " (ii. 20). 
" It is men who wait to be selected, and not 
those who seek, from whom we may always 



324 CONTEMPORARIES 

expect the most efficient service " (ii. i r 7). " The 
fact is, troops who have fought a few battles 
and won, and followed up their victories, im- 
prove upon what they were before to an extent 
that can hardly be reckoned by percentage" 
(ii. 109). " No man is so brave that he may 
not meet such defeats and disasters as to dis- 
courage him and dampen his ardor for any cause, 
no matter how just he deems it " (ii. 419). " It 
had been my intention before this to remain at 
the West, even if I was made lieutenant-gen- 
eral ; but when I got to Washington, and saw 
the situation, it was plain that here was the 
point for the commanding-general to be. No 
one else could probably resist the pressure that 
would be brought to bear upon him to desist 
from his own plans and pursue others " (ii. 116). 
In each passage we see clearly the working 
of Grant's mind. When once his convictions 
had taken shape in one of these simple formulae, 
it was no more necessary for him to reconsider 
it than for a mathematician to go behind a pre- 
ceding proposition. This clear and pellucid 
mental habit, joined with much reticence and a 
good deal of obstinacy, made a very powerful 
combination ; kept him from being entangled 
by his own plans or confused by those of others ; 
enabled him to form a policy, to hold to it, to 
overcome obstacles, to escape depression in 



GRANT 325 

defeat or undue excitement in victory. With 
all this — and here comes in the habit of mind 
generated by a republic — he never forgot that 
he was dealing with his own fellow countrymen, 
both as friends and foes, and that he must never 
leave their wishes and demands, nor even their 
whims and prejudices, out of sight. Many of 
his early risks were based upon the conviction 
that the friends of the Union needed a victory 
or two, and must have it. All his strategy? 
during the closing campaign, was based upon 
the conviction — a conviction which Wellington 
or Von Moltke might very probably have missed 
— that the Confederates were thoroughly tired 
of the war, and were losing more men by deser- 
tion than they could possibly gain by impress- 
ment. Even in the terms at last given to Lee, 
the same quality of what we may call glorified 
common-sense came in ; and there is no doubt 
that the whole process of reconstruction was 
facilitated when Grant decided that the van- 
quished Confederate soldiers had better keep 
their horses to help them in getting in their 
crops. All these considerations were precisely 
those we should expect a republican general to 
apply. It would be natural for him to recognize 
that the war in which he was engaged was not 
a mere competitive test of military machines, 
human or otherwise, but that it must be han- 



326 CONTEMPORARIES 

died with constant reference to the instincts and 
habits that lay behind it. The absence of this 
ready comprehension helped to explain the curi- 
ous failure, in our army, of many foreign officers 
who knew only the machine. The fact that 
Grant and Lincoln, however they might differ 
in other respects, had this mental habit in com- 
mon was that which enabled them to work 
together so well. A striking instance of this 
was their common relation to the slavery ques- 
tion, which both had approached reluctantly, 
but which both accepted at last as the pivotal 
matter of the whole conflict. Both saw that it 
could be met in but one way, and both divined 
that the course of events was steadily aboli- 
tionizing all Union men. In general, Lincoln 
with sympathetic humor and Grant with strong 
sense kept always in mind the difference be- 
tween a people's war and a mere contest of 
soldiers. 

In other words, they were both representa- 
tive Americans. So much stronger is the repub- 
lican instinct among us than any professional 
feeling which even West Point can create that 
Grant, though trained to the pursuit of arms, 
never looked at things for a moment merely 
from the soldier's point of view. This was the 
key to his military successes, — the time, the 
place, the combatants being what they were, — 



GRANT 327 

and this was the key to the readiness with 
which, at last, both Grant and the soldiers 
under him laid down their arms. Here at last, 
Europe thought, was the crisis of danger ; here 
was the "man on horseback/' so often pro- 
phesied as the final instrument of Providence, 
surely destined to bring this turbulent republic 
back among the mass of nations that obey with 
ease. The moment of fancied peril came ; and 
it turned out that old Israel Putnam, galloping 
in his shirt-sleeves to the battle of Bunker 
Hill, was not more harmless to the liberties 
of America than this later man-on-horseback, 
Grant. 

The claims of Grant to permanent fame will 
lie first in the fact that he commanded the 
largest civilized armies the world ever saw ; 
secondly, that with these armies he saved the 
integrity of the American nation ; thirdly, that 
he did all this by measures of his own initiating, 
rarely calling a council of war and commonly 
differing from it when called ; fourthly, that he 
did all this for duty, not glory, and in the spirit 
of a citizen, not the military spirit, persisting to 
the last that he was, as he told Bismarck, more 
of a farmer than a soldier ; then again, that 
when tested by the severest personal griefs and 
losses in the decline of life, he showed the same 
strong qualities still ; and finally, that in writ- 



328 CONTEMPORARIES 

ing his own memoirs he was simple as regards 
himself, candid towards opponents, and thus 
bequeathed to the world a book better worth 
reading than any military autobiography since 
Caesar's Commentaries. 



THE ECCENTRICITIES OF RE- 
FORMERS 

" Oh, why," said an exhausted American wife 
to her husband, a moderate reformer, " why do 
the insane so cling to you ? " This tendency of 
every reform to surround itself with a fringe of 
the unreasonable and half-cracked is really to 
its credit, and furnishes one of its best disci- 
plines. Those who are obliged by conscience to 
disregard the peace and proprieties of the social 
world, in the paths of reform, learn by experi- 
ence what a trial they are to their friends by 
observing what tortures they themselves suffer 
from those who go a few steps farther. They 
learn self-control by exercising moderation to- 
ward those who have lost that quality. Thomas 
Hughes, in his letters from America, describing 
some one whom he likes, adds, " He is doubt- 
less, however, a cracked fellow, in the best 
sense," — showing that, without a little crack 
somewhere, a man could hardly do his duty to 
the times. Thus it is that the insane cling to 
those who, though really sane, are content to be 
called crazy, — "fanatic named and fool," as 



330 CONTEMPORARIES 

Lowell wrote of Phillips in a sonnet. There is 
nothing more curious in the rich and copious 
memoirs of Garrison than his early cordiality 
of relations with John Humphrey Noyes, the 
man who finally became the potent head of the 
curious free-love community at Oneida ; and 
Garrison was, as a result, publicly charged with 
holding doctrines which were to him peculiarly 
offensive. Dryden wrote : — 

" Great wits are sure to madness near allied, 
And thin partitions do their bounds divide." 

What he wrote is not more true of the coffee- 
house wits whom he had in mind than of the 
incomparably greater wits who originate and 
carry on reforms. 

The early anti-slavery meetings in particular 
were severely tested in respect to patience by 
those who might almost be called professional 
lunatics, as for instance Father Lam son, Abby 
Folsom (Emerson's "flea of conventions"), and 
G. W. F. Mellen. Lamson's white habiliments 
and white beard seemed almost like a stage 
make-up for the situation ; and Abby Folsom's 
" interminable scroll " (Emerson again), with 
her shrill climax of all remarks, " It's the capi- 
talists ! " seemed like the rehearsal of a play. 
Yet it is not quite fair to assume that the pa- 
tience of the abolitionists was invariable. There 
were times when it gave way : and I have seen 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 331 

Abby Folsom led from the hall, courteously but 
decisively, by Wendell Phillips on the one side 
and a man yet living on the other, — she still 
denouncing the capitalists as she reluctantly 
came towards the door. To the occasional 
policeman present, for whom the abolitionists 
themselves seemed as much lunatics as their 
allies, the petty discrimination of putting out 
only the craziest must have appeared an ab- 
surdity ; Wendell Phillips at that very meeting 
had to explain the real distinction, — namely, 
that he and his friends were not the object of 
persecution because they were crazy, but be- 
cause they were known not to be. 

Another striking figure on the platform, who 
always attracted the disapproval of the profane, 
was Charles Burleigh, who wore not merely long 
curls on his shoulders, but also a long and rather 
ill-trimmed beard, — in a beardless period, — and 
had distinctly that Christ-like look which is often 
to be found in large gatherings of reformers. 
Lowell, who was one of the early beard - con- 
verts, used to be amused in going about the 
streets with Burleigh, a much taller man, to find 
himself pointed out with a sort of subsidiary 
emphasis, as if he were a young neophyte ac- 
companying his father confessor. Burleigh was 
undoubtedly one of the ablest men in the anti- 
slavery conventions. Lowell, in one of his 



332 CONTEMPORARIES 

letters, describes him as "looking like one of 
the old apostles who had slept in the same room 
with a Quaker who had gone off in the morn- 
ing with his companion's appropriate costume, 
leaving him to accommodate himself as best 
he might to the straight collar and the single 
breast of the fugitive." 1 He belonged to a 
gifted family, two of his brothers being poets, 
and he himself was a man of singular power in 
speech, with a rich and mellow voice, a benig- 
nant manner and an extremely clear and logical 
mind ; had he also possessed humor, he would 
have been one of the most effective of orators. 
His eloquence had every essential except this, 
as his personal appearance had every quality of 
distinction but neatness. 

Another man of peculiar bearing was Henry 
C. Wright, whose whim was never to address 
the presiding officer as "Mr. Chairman," but 
only as " Chairman," and whose erect figure 
and commanding voice, with the frequent re- 
currence of an occasional and imperious " Now, 
Chairman ! " gave him a weight of manner 
which his matter did not always confirm. He 
had been in early life a Congregational minister, 
and had lost his parish, it was said, for the un- 
clerical act (in those days) of swimming across 
the Connecticut River. His papers and his jour- 

1 Letters of James Russell Lowell, i. 1 10. 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 333 

nals, which were profuse, are now in the Har- 
vard College Library, and will one day, no 
doubt, furnish ample and quaint materials for 
the historian of the "Come-outers" of that day. 
Another noticeable person on the platform was 
Nathaniel Peabody Rogers, the New Hamp- 
shire editor, a man of noble and beautiful charac- 
ter, whose journalism had a spice and zest which 
would now command a market on merely pro- 
fessional grounds ; but who was a Non-resistant 
of non-resistants, and would, if he could have 
had his way, have conducted the meetings with- 
out president, secretary, or any restrictions on 
debate. He out-Garrisoned Garrison on this 
and other points, and they at last parted com- 
pany, to their mutual regret. He had one of 
those faces of utter benignity which always sur- 
prised Southern visitors to the anti-slavery con- 
ventions, they usually expecting to find upon 
the platform a set of scowling stage villains. 

Another picturesque and even eccentric fea- 
ture upon the anti-slavery platform was the 
group of the Hutchinson family, raven-haired 
and keen-eyed as a group of Bohemians, tall 
and stalwart youths surrounding their rosebud 
of a sister, Abby. They, too, had a melodra- 
matic look, with their wide collars and long 
locks ; they put immense fire and fury into 
"The Car Emancipation " and their other anti- 



334 CONTEMPORARIES 

slavery songs. As years went on, they broke 
up into detached groups, extending into the 
second generation. The story of these experi- 
ences has been told entertainingly in a book by 
one of the family. Four of the brothers used 
to give village concerts, in which they adapted 
themselves to each place they visited, using local 
"gags " to an extent which brought out screams 
of laughter. I was present on one occasion, 
in a country town, when they had refused an 
encore, but when it finally had to be conceded 
on the special appeal of a venerable citizen ; and 
they selected for performance one of their most 
absurd songs : — 

" O potatoes they grow small 

Over there ! 
O potatoes they grow small, 
'Cos they plants 'em in the fall, 
And they eats 'em, tops and all, 

Over there. " 

A muffled chuckle began in all parts of the audi- 
ence, and swelled to a tumult of applause incom- 
prehensible to me till I afterwards learned that 
the venerable gentleman in question was known 
as " Small Potatoes," from an unlucky gift of 
a basket of such inadequate vegetables to some 
donation fund. 

Whether the hit was wholly accidental on 
the part of the Hutchinsons I never knew, 
and the impression on the audience was soon 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 335 

changed when one of the brothers, who had be- 
fore given evidences of insanity, came forward 
to make a speech to the audience, lecturing 
them especially on the undue love of money. 
He spoke to them courageously and tenderly, 
like a troubled father, though he still looked 
young ; and at last said, with infinite pity, " If 
you wish for money, you can have it from me," 
and began taking silver coins from his pockets 
and tossing them among the audience, where 
they were at first eagerly picked up by boys, and 
then left untouched, while the spectators seemed 
awed and spell-bound. I never shall forget the 
anxious and patient look with which the bro- 
thers watched him with their large dark eyes, 
not, however, interfering; and even when he 
had emptied his pockets and turned to a box 
containing the receipts taken at the door, and 
began to throw half-dollars and quarter-dollars 
from that, saying to them, " May I ? " they only 
nodded gravely, leaving him to himself. It all 
recalled descriptions of the reverence given by 
untaught persons to the acts of the insane. 
He soon stopped and the music was resumed, 
the money being honestly collected afterwards 
and brought back to his brothers. This mem- 
ber of the household finally committed suicide, 
after a long period during which his disordered 
mind evidently played with the thought of it, 



336 CONTEMPORARIES 

getting all ready for it just at the hour when he 
knew he should be interrupted, as, for instance, 
by men coming to the barn to feed the cattle ; 
but finally he went too far. The career of the 
whole family was a curious instance of the spo- 
radic appearance of a quality akin to genius 
in certain households, a trait which is familiar to 
every student of life in New England farming 
towns. 

Parker Pillsbury's " Acts of the Anti-Slavery 
Apostles " is a storehouse of facts as to the 
decidedly extreme attitude taken for a time by 
himself, Stephen Foster, Henry C. Wright, and 
others, of whom it could be said, as Garrison 
wrote to his wife about one of these, " He is 
remarkably successful in raising the spirit of 
mobocracy wherever he goes. I could wish," 

he adds, "that brother would exercise 

more judgment and discretion in the presenta- 
tion of his views ; but it is useless to reason 
with him, with any hope of altering his course, 
as he is firmly persuaded that he is pursuing 
the very best course." It was during one of 
these mobs that Lucy Stone, urging the men 
who had spoken to retire from the hall through 
a back door, was met by them with the question, 
"Who will protect you?" "This gentleman 
will protect me," said the sweet-voiced woman, 
taking the arm of the ringleader of the mob as 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 337 

he sprang on the platform. " Yes, I will," he 
said, after one look at her serene face ; and he 
piloted her safely out. So clear, however, was 
the conviction of these especial leaders as to 
the necessity of very strong statements that 
one excellent Quaker woman offered this reso- 
lution at the tenth anniversary meeting of the 
Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society, January 
28, 1842: "Resolved, That the sectarian or- 
ganizations called churches are combinations of 
thieves, robbers, adulterers, pirates, and mur- 
derers, and as such form the bulwarks of Amer- 
ican slavery." What she meant was simply 
what James G. Birney had meant in his tract^ 
"The American Churches the Bulwarks of 
American Slavery ; " but these specifications 
which she made, though logically consistent, 
raised natural antagonism in thousands of hon- 
est minds. 

It must be remembered, on the other hand, 
that this was a period, even in New England, of 
negro pews, negro cars, and even negro stages. 
I can myself recall an instance, about 1840, 
when a colored woman was ejected from a stage 
on what is now Massachusetts Avenue, near the 
Cambridge Common ; and negro cars were often 
provided, even on Massachusetts railways, from 
which the white companions of such negroes 
were forcibly put out, as were the colored peo- 



338 CONTEMPORARIES 

pie from white men's cars, even if they had 
first-class tickets. With the curious inconsist- 
ency of those times, an exception was made 
if the colored people were servants of whites. 
These outrages were particularly noticeable 
on the Eastern Railroad, of which a Quaker 
was the superintendent. In one number of 
" The Liberator " (xii. 56) there is a travelers' 
directory of the various railroads, indicating 
whether they do or do not have negro cars. 1 
Police justices refused to punish assaults by 
railroad employees even on white passengers 
who had resisted or condemned these outrages. 
Under these circumstances, much was to be 
pardoned to the spirit of liberty. 

The woman suffrage movement, involving as 
it did a more immediate and personal test of 
daily habits than the anti-slavery reform, carried 
with it, naturally, its own fringe of oddities. The 
mere fact that it coincided with the period of 
the Bloomer costume would have secured this ; 
for, while it required some mental ability to 
lengthen one's range of thoughts, it needed 
none at all to shorten one's skirts. The dress, 
so far from being indelicate, was scrupulously 
and almost prudishly modest, and those who 
wore it would have been dismayed and horrified 

1 See Life of Garrison, iii. 28 ; Liberator, Vols, xi., xii.^ 
Passim. 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 339 

by the modern bathing-dress ; but it brought, 
as I can personally testify, more discomfort 
to the speakers of the other sex than any trials 
of a platform, since the ladies who wore it had 
often to be escorted home through the irrev- 
erent population of a city. But, apart from 
this, the mere radicalism of the agitation nat- 
urally appealed to a certain number of the un- 
balanced, and the movement had to bear the 
burden. 

This came over me vividly for the first time 
when attending a Woman's Rights meeting — 
this being the early designation of the enter- 
prise — in Philadelphia. The gathering was 
large, and the gallery audience was made up, 
in a considerable degree, of young medical 
students, many of these being Southerners and 
ripe for fun. Just after the meeting had been 
called to order, a man of quiet appearance came 
to me and said, " Is Miss Ora Noon present ? " 
Struck by the oddity of the name, — which I 
have slightly modified in telling this story, — I 
asked him why he wished to know, and he said 
that she was a medical student, and some friends 
from out of town had arrived and wished to see 
her. "Will you not call for her?" he said; 
and I, becoming still more suspicious, referred 
the matter to James Mott, who was just pass- 
ing. He recognized the name at once, to my 



340 CONTEMPORARIES 

great relief, called for her aloud with his usual 
grave dignity, and a young girl of rather odd 
appearance got up, made her way to the door, 
and went out with her friends. After a little 
tittering, the audience composed itself and we 
heard no more of the incident. But that night, 
after returning to the hospitable home of the 
Motts, I was told the whole story of Ora Noon. 
She was, it appeared, the daughter of a 
Southern slaveholder, and was to inherit negroes 
on coming of age. She had formed a great de- 
sire to study medicine, to which her father was 
vehemently opposed. After several unsuccess- 
ful efforts, she attacked him again on her twen- 
tieth birthday and requested, as a birthday gift, 
his assent to her wish. He still refusing, she 
coolly said : " Very well ; in another year I shall 
be of age, and shall come into possession of my 
own property. I shall then sell my slaves, and 
this will give the means for my course of medical 
study." The father laughed at so absurd a pro- 
posal ; the subject rested for a year, and on the 
eve of her twenty-first birthday she announced 
the purpose again. The father at last surren- 
dered, made her promise not to sell her slaves, 
and counted out to her the money for her first 
year at Philadelphia. This being in her hands 
she quietly said : " To-morrow I shall emanci- 
pate my slaves, instead of selling them ; " and 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 341 

she did it. She went to Philadelphia, knowing 
nobody, secured a boarding-place, bought a pair 
of pistols, a season ticket to the pistol-gallery, 
and a similar ticket to a leading theatre ; and 
thus began her professional preparations. She 
proved a most successful student, and led, in 
spite of the above little eccentricities, an irre- 
proachable life ; her success at the pistol-gallery 
perhaps helping to protect from any disrespect 
inspired by her habitual presence at the theatre. 
It is all a curious illustration of the erratic ten- 
dency sometimes visible, just at first, on each 
step in the emancipation of any class. Very 
probably the later demeanor of Miss Ora Noon 
was one of scrupulous decorum ; and she may 
never have needed to employ her pistols against 
anything more formidable than clay pigeons. 

Where eccentricity lasts into middle life, it is 
apt to be permanent. I knew well a reformer 
who, although a working farmer, had regulated 
his life absolutely in his own way, and was as in- 
dependent of all others as if he lived on a lonely 
island. He dressed uniformly in light drab 
clothes, neatly cut and carefully brushed, and 
wore a deep Byronic collar around a very bare 
neck. He was scrupulously and marvelously 
clean, and had that delicacy of skin which marks 
the vegetarian. His wife was a sensible and 
capable woman, and their three little boys, of 



342 CONTEMPORARIES 

whom the eldest developed a marked musical 
talent, were admirably cared for. One of these 
was named Freewaldo Channing, the latter 
name being given in honor of the celebrated 
divine, while the first name was taken, the father 
told me from a German word which he had 
heard (freizva/der), meaning free-woodsman, — 
which was what he wished his child to be. As 
the father once said to me, " Neither me nor 
my boys wants to keep always to the same dull 
roundelay o' choppin' wood and doin' chores." 
Percy Taylor, as I will call the father, was the 
nearest approach I have ever known to the pro- 
verbial man-of -one-book {homo unius libri), who 
is justly feared by more promiscuous readers. 
Percy Taylor's one book was Lamartine's " His- 
tory of the Girondists," then lately published 
and called by him " La Martin's History of the 
Guy-rondists." He rarely engaged in any long 
talk without drawing some moral from that 
book, — his favorite heroes being Robespierre 
and Vergniaud, whom he called " Robyspierry " 
and " Virginnyord." His own conversation was 
filled with aphorisms, sometimes sonorous and 
resounding, as when he said to me : " As I look 
at it, Humanity, a-ploddin' over this planet, 
meets with considerable many left - handed 
things : and the best way I know of is to sum- 
mons up courage and put right through 'em." 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 343 

Here the moral is superb, and I do not see why 
the simple figure of " Humanity a-ploddin' over 
this planet " is not as fine as the long tradition 
of the Wandering Jew. 

Percy Taylor belonged to a family which has 
been, in various branches, forcible and eccentric. 
His half-brother came tolerably near being him- 
self the Wandering Jew, having traveled widely 
in Europe and the East, everywhere stopping 
at short intervals in the highway, baring his 
head and offering oral prayer. His sonorous 
voice penetrated far at such times, and the 
groups collecting round him were moved to si- 
lence, not derision. Once, when staying over- 
night in the same house with him, and occupy- 
ing an adjoining room, I heard him presently up- 
lifting his supplications in elaborately piled sen- 
tences, and soon coming round to " the stranger 
within the gates," meaning me. I do not know 
that he confessed my sins, but I know that he 
traced out unflinchingly my supposed duties, 
present and future ; and when I slept and waked 
again, he was still at work on my spiritual 
horoscope, — nor have I ever felt so encom- 
passed, and, as it were, shielded by a beneficent 
interference, though one rather drowsily recog- 
nized. It would have seemed quite impossible 
to breakfast in the ordinary manner with such 
a self-appointed guardian angel, and I think he 



344 CONTEMPORARIES 

must have been up and away before I descended. 
I more than once saw him afterwards, standing 
like a statue at street corners and making invo- 
cation for a whole city ; but I felt that I had 
been the subject of his concentrated care, and 
passed on. There may have been some verita- 
ble mystic element in the whole family, for I 
remember that Percy had a wondrous tale of 
having been summoned home ten miles in a 
storm by a premonition that danger impended 
over his wife, and of having arrived just in time 
to defend her from a tramp at the back door. 

Those who, half a century 7 ago, attended any 
service in the meeting-house of the old First 
Parish at Newburyport — a fine type of an ear- 
lier church architecture in its graceful steeple, 
its lofty pulpit, and its sounding-board — could 
hardly fail to notice, in the front corner pew 
of the great gallery, a man of tall and rather 
striking appearance, with hawk nose and viva- 
cious look, who presided over a pew full of 
whispering boys, and was sedulous in calling 
their attention to the hymns, and in writing out 
for each the text of the sermon. The task was 
gratuitous on his part, and the boys were led to 
this Sunday fidelity rather as a species of rever- 
ential lark, one might say, than from any un- 
alloyed devotion. He might have passed for 
one of those tithing-men so essential to the 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 345 

order of early Puritan worship, and still to be 
seen in the Protestant Cathedral of Basle in 
Switzerland. Yet his life had been wholly sec- 
ular, and the title which preceded his name — 
Doctor Hackett — was rumored to have been 
won by service as hospital steward. He had 
no visible means of support, and few obvious 
expenses ; his profession was mainly that of 
walking, with the aid of a staff and two exceed- 
ingly long legs, about all the neighboring coun- 
try, he seldom failing to be present at a reform 
meeting, an ordination, or a funeral. In his 
shorter walks he made it his especial mission to 
clear away large stones from the road, bend- 
ing his tall form to grasp them, and flinging 
them with vigor on one side. Perhaps the oc- 
casional reference among Scripture texts to 
" stones of offending " may have led him to 
this form of self-consecration, but I have often 
wished in rural neighborhoods that there were 
more disciples of his faith. 

His dwelling-place was as weird in the ap- 
proach as that of some enchanter in Spenser's 
poetry. He lived alone on a wide tract then 
known as Grasshopper Plains, dwelling in a 
small shanty which he had bought, I think, from 
some railroad men ; and its minute dimensions 
caused him no repining, except that he could 
not give it the dignity of insurance against fire, 



346 CONTEMPORARIES 

as it was valued at only five dollars, and no 
company would take risks below ten. This 
atom of a house was, however, less remarkable 
than the approach to it. He had removed it 
into the middle of a copse of young birches, 
through which little paths penetrated, con- 
verging toward his door. On all these paths 
he had made piles of small wayside treasures 
that had attracted his eye, — horseshoes, pad- 
locks, keys, hoops, bits of iron rod too small 
for junk, and yet carefully classed and piled. 
Within the house the collection grew only more 
concentrated : pins, nails, rusty knives, bits of 
ribbon, bits of string, were hung to the raf- 
ters, or arranged on the floor, leaving scarcely 
room for his microscopic housekeeping. As un- 
moved by his possessions as if it were a palace, 
he ushered you in, kept on talking, flung out 
flowery and long-winded words, and seemed a 
Bourbon concealed in a junkshop. On your 
exit, he accompanied you and escorted you 
through his small dominions, first pausing to 
screw upon his door a large iron plate covering 
solidly the keyhole, since it seemed that vagrant 
boys found a wicked delight in filling the latter 
with gravel and small stones in the owner's ab- 
sence. " Such conduct," he said in his Micaw- 
ber-like way, " I should call, sir — with no dis- 
respect to the colored population — niggardly. " 



ECCENTRICITIES OF REFORMERS 347 

While I wrestled in bewilderment with this un- 
expected use of language, as if John the Baptist 
had unguardedly slipped into a pun, he came 
back to the proposition, — "I intend, sir, no dis- 
respect whatever to the colored population." 
"Certainly not, Doctor Hackett, " I replied; "I 
should not suspect you of such a thing." The 
intercourse between us was always, I think, as 
high-bred and decorous in tone as if it had cul- 
minated in an interchange of snuff-boxes. 

In truth, even to this day, one rarely finds a 
country town in which there is not some half- 
lunatic or "feeble-minded person " — more com- 
monly a woman — who is so near the verge of 
sanity as rather to rejoice in the freedom of 
observation and speech that it implies. " I am," 
said a lady of this description to me, " the only 
person in this place who can afford to tell peo- 
ple the absolute truth." She habitually walked 
about with an old-fashioned cane, which had 
been her father's ; and she came nearer than 
any one in town to the all-observant poet de- 
scribed in Browning's " How it Strikes a Con- 
temporary." In one case I knew such a woman 
who stopped a pastor, recently a widower, on 
the sidewalk, and, holding up a warning finger, 
cautioned him against an aspiring virgin of the 
parish : " Luther Dalton ! Luther Dalton ! be- 
ware of Lucy Bradley ! She 's a Cat ! " I again 



348 CONTEMPORARIES 

discreetly modify the names ; but the poor 
man, stricken with terror, left town as soon as 
possible, and returned in a few weeks with a 
newly-wedded spouse, who vigilantly kept both 
cats and their persecutors at a distance. These 
sibyls, it is needless to say, were usually re- 
formers ; they would have gone to the stake 
for their principles ; but they were rather apt 
to keep a private auto-da-fe at hand, where the 
troublesome Lucy Bradleys of this world might 
be immolated for their presumption. 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 

" The noblest prospect which a Scotchman ever sees is the highroad 
that leads him to England. — Boswell's Johnson (a. d. 1763). 

It has often been a question in my mind 
whether I was personally helped or hindered by 
the fact of never having set foot on the shores 
of England until forty-eight years old. The 
very juvenile age at which young people now 
go there, and the fact that we generally regard 
this arrangement as a thing in itself desirable, 
are curiously in contrast with the time when 
early foreign travel was comparatively rare. In 
my own case, the postponement never, on the 
whole, seemed to be a distinct injury, since I 
cannot but think that the strictly American 
fibre was likely to be knit more strongly, at 
least in those days, for persons bred in their 
own country. The interval certainly gave time 
for measuring men and thoughts at home, for 
testing one's self by different forms of action, 
and for accumulating knowledge which made 
the new experience more valuable. Undoubt- 
edly, during such years of waiting, the eager- 



350 CONTEMPORARIES 

ness of every American to see the home of his 
fathers grew stronger and stronger ; and he 
was apt to share the feeling of Johnson's imagi- 
nary Scotchman, though perhaps from a higher 
motive, that the noblest prospect he could see 
would be the highroad leading to England. The 
circumstance that, in this instance, his path was 
to be u o'er the mountain waves," in Campbell's 
phrase, only increased the attraction. 

Yet in truth the American began to walk 
on the road to England from the time when 
he first encountered English literature and 
Englishmen, even as transplanted to this con- 
tinent. Of course, the knowledge of English 
literature traveled to us easily, and this all the 
more because the responsible literary authori- 
ties, even of American imprint, were then al- 
most wholly English ; the leader among them, 
in my boyhood, being the weekly "Albion," 
then published in New York. It is to be re- 
membered, however, that the actual contact 
with such English authors, statesmen, or men 
of high social rank as visited this country was 
then easier in Boston and Cambridge than 
elsewhere, because the early Cunard steamers 
made Boston, not New York, their terminus. 
In the society of that city, and still more in the 
academical society of Cambridge, it was more 
common than now, very probably, to meet dis- 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 351 

tinguished Englishmen. It was rare indeed to 
see the Harvard Commencement events pass 
by without visitors of this description. 

Englishwomen of rank, however, rarely came 
to America, nor do they abound even now. I 
think that the first titled Englishwoman whom 
I ever met was that very original and attractive 
young representative of this class, Lady Amber- 
ley, who visited this country about 1868, — 
daughter of Lord Stanley of Alderley, and wife 
of the young Lord Amberley, son and heir of 
Earl Russell. I had found it quite easy to 
overcome the vague American deference for 
the supposed authority of a title in case of the 
Englishmen of rank who had passed before 
my eyes ; for I could not convince myself that 
their manners or bearing were superior to those 
of various gentlemen — Bostonians, Philadel- 
phians, and Virginians — whom I had met. I 
may add that no later experience has ever 
removed this impression, while undoubtedly 
the Latin blood often exhibits to us, even in 
lower social grades, finer examples of courtesy 
than can easily be paralleled in the Germanic 
races. 

Thus much for Englishmen of rank ; and as 
for women of the corresponding class, it is cer- 
tain that Miss Burney's and Miss Edgeworth's 
novels had formed for us a very imperfect an- 



352 CONTEMPORARIES 

ticipation of such a type as Lady Amberley, a 
girlish wife of nineteen, as frank and simple as 
any American girl, and with much more active 
interest in real things than was to be found in 
most of the Newport dowagers who shook then- 
heads over her heretical opinions. I had once 
the pleasure of driving her in a pony phaeton 
to Whitehall, a former residence of the Eng- 
lish bishop, Berkeley, and the place where he 
wrote his " Minute Philosopher." All the memo- 
ries of Berkeley, I observed, did not absorb the 
boyish husband and wife so eagerly as the old- 
fashioned well-sweep that crowned the well ; 
and they were never weary of pulling down the 
buckets. I took her, on the way, to call on La 
Farge and see his then recent designs from 
Browning ; being dismayed, however, to learn 
from her that although Browning was a great 
favorite socially at her father's house in Lon- 
don, yet neither she nor her friends cared any- 
thing about his poetry. She talked with the 
greatest frankness about everything, being par- 
ticularly interested in Vassar College, then the 
only example of its class ; and she persistently 
asked all the young girls why they did not go 
there, until she was bluntly met at last by a 
young married woman as frank in speech as 
herself, though less enlightened, who assured 
her that no society girl would think of going to 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 353 

college, and that nobody went there except the 
daughters of " mechanics and ministers." 

I remember that she in turn gave me some 
admirable suggestions from her own point 
of view; as, for instance, when I asked her 
whether the highest London society was not 
made more tame by the fact that all guests were 
necessarily determined by rank rather than by 
preference, and she answered that it was not 
so at all, pointing out the simple fact that the 
recognized aristocracy was on quite too large a 
scale to be included in any private drawing- 
room, so that there had to be a selection, and 
this made it very easy to drop out the unavail- 
able patricians, and bring in plebeians who were 
personally attractive. Young girls, for example, 
she said, who were staying as guests in great 
houses, and who had strong points in the way 
of beauty or music or conversation, might have 
an immensely successful social career, however 
unknown or humble their origin, while whole 
families of magnates would come from the more 
distant counties for the London season and en- 
tirely fail of actual success. "I know lots of 
dukes' daughters," she said casually, "who 
get no attention whatever." There was really 
something quite delicious, to my republican ears, 
in thus sweeping, as it were, a debris of dukes' 
daughters into this dustpan of indifference. 



354 CONTEMPORARIES 

Perhaps the young speaker was herself not 
so much a type as a bit of eccentricity, yet she 
was an interesting and high-minded one, and 
reinforced her equally independent but person- 
ally insignificant husband with potent strength. 
There was a story in Cambridge that when he 
had rashly trusted himself, one day, in a circle 
of bright people without her, and had suffered 
some repression, she drove out the next day 
alone to fight the battle over again with the 
accomplished host. "Mr. ," she said im- 
petuously, "Amberley has been telling me 
what you were saying to him yesterday. Now 
you know that 's all bosh." This story gave 
some pleasure, I fear, to those previously dis- 
posed to take sides against her entertainer, and 
it suggests a somewhat similar bit of retaliation 
which occurred in case of another English vis- 
itor, also highly connected, but oppressively well 
informed, who once at a Philadelphia dinner 
table, when some suburban town in Pennsyl- 
vania was mentioned, remarked incidentally 
that its population was 3278. While the com- 
pany sat dumb with admiration, a quiet man 
farther down at the table, who had hitherto 
been speechless, opened his lips to say: "I 
think the gentleman is mistaken. The popu- 
lation is 3304." An eminent Oxford professor 
told me, years after, that this incident, which 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 355 

soon got into the newspapers, might be said to 
have delighted two continents. 

When I lived at Newport, R. L, from 1864 
to 1878, there was a constant procession of 
foreign visitors, varying in interest and often 
quite wanting in it. I remember one eminent 
literary man, who, in spite of all cautions to 
the contrary, appeared at a rather fashionable 
day reception in what would now be called a 
golf suit, of the loudest possible plaid, like that 
of the Scotch cousin in Punch who comes down 
thus dressed for church, to the terror of his 
genteel cousins. What was more, the visitor 
also wore a spyglass of great size, hung round 
his neck, all through the entertainment. An- 
other highly connected Englishman, attending 
an evening reception given expressly for him, 
came into the parlor with his hat and umbrella 
in his hand, declining to be parted from them 
through the whole evening ; which suggested 
to a clever Newport lady the story of the show- 
man who exhibited a picture of Daniel in the 
lion's den, and who pointed out that Daniel was 
to be distinguished from the lions by having a 
blue cotton umbrella under his arm. In this 
case, the lady remarked that the conditions 
were reversed, since it was the lion that carried 
the umbrella. 

One certainly saw at Newport many foreigners 



356 CONTEMPORARIES 

of distinction and positive interest, especially 
at the house of Mr. George Bancroft, where I 
remember to have met the Emperor of Brazil, 
traveling as Dom Pedro, with his wife, she hav- 
ing with her a little lady in waiting who felt it her 
duty to go about and whisper to the other guests 
not to forget that her Imperial Majesty was a 
Bourbon. When I paused to recall what that 
name had signified through centuries of despot- 
ism and gloom, it was startling to think that I 
was sitting on the same sofa chatting peacefully 
with one of its last representatives. A more 
interesting visitor was Thomas Hughes, still dear 
to the schoolboy heart, whom I took up on the 
cliffs for a stroll, which he has kindly commem- 
orated in his published journal, but which was 
saddened to me by the fact that as we stood to- 
gether beside the Spouting Rock, and he, despite 
caution, went too near, a sudden jet of salt water 
deluged his only white duck suit from top to 
toe, and he was driven hastily back to the house. 
I recall with pleasure, also, a visit to Newport 
by the young Baron Mackay, now Lord Reay, 
whom I took with me, at his request, to see a 
public grammar school, where he talked to the 
children with such simplicity and frankness as 
to win their hearts, and to prefigure his fine 
career as chairman of the London school board, 
lord rector of St. Andrews University, presi- 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 357 

dent of University College, and governor of 
Bombay. 

It may be said in return that American 
strangers who had decent introductions were 
most kindly received, a quarter of a century ago, 
in London. A little flavor of foreignness was 
not only borne patiently, but accepted as a merit ; 
and indeed Lord Houghton told me that the 
early Americans, as Ticknor and Sumner, had 
been sometimes characterized as not having 
enough flavor of their own soil. I cannot for- 
get, however, that Miss Kate Field, then liv- 
ing in London and having a decided circle of 
popularity of her own, used to declare that the 
English kindliness towards our fellow country- 
men was strictly limited by selfishness ; that 
it must be a poor letter of introduction which 
would not bring forth an invitation to dinner. 
"After that," she said, "if you do not make 
yourself agreeable, they will drop you like a 
hot potato." From this calamity a very short 
stay is a sure preventive, and may work suc- 
cessful results, like Sam Weller's brief love 
letter. At the time of my first visit (1872) 
many cultivated Englishmen were meditating 
visits to America, and even lecturing tours, so 
that such men as Tyndall, Froude, and others 
were naturally inclined to make the acquaint- 
ance of those familiar with the field, — and 



358 CONTEMPORARIES 

authors, too, are always fancied to be kindly 
disposed to those who write literary criticisms 
for the press. It was also a period when two 
or three American writers were so enormously 
popular in England that I could at once com- 
mand the ear of any Englishwoman by telling 
her that I had been a pupil of Longfellow, or 
of any Englishman by dropping out the fact 
that I had dined with Mark Twain in his own 
house and that he had said grace at table. 

But even apart from these phantom ties I 
was constantly struck with the genuine spirit of 
hospitality among Englishmen toward Ameri- 
cans as such, even those with whose pursuits 
they might have almost nothing in common, 
and for whom they had not the least reason to 
put themselves out. I liked this none the less 
because it had definite limitations as to pecuniary 
obligations and the like, excluding everything 
in the nature of "treating;" all this being, in 
my opinion, a weak point in our more gushing 
or more self-conscious habit. I remember to 
have once been taken by a gentleman, on whom 
I had but the slightest claim, to the country 
house of another, on whom I had no claim 
whatever. The latter was not at all literary, and 
had not even the usual vague English interest 
in American affairs ; yet he gave up his whole 
afternoon to drive me to Kenilworth, which he 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 359 

had seen a thousand times. But that for which 
I liked him best, and which afforded a wholly 
new experience, was that, as we entered the 
outer doorway, he, going first, looked back over 
his shoulder and said simply, " They make you 
pay threepence for admission here," and then 
added, speaking to the attendant, " Here is my 
threepence." After all the time and trouble 
he had given to his stranger guest, he yet left 
him to pay his own threepence, a thing which 
most Americans would not have dreamed of 
doing. It would have been the American 
notion of good breeding to save a guest from 
expense, as it was the English impulse to save 
him from the sense of obligation. I confess 
that I prefer the latter method. 

On the other hand, I was much impressed 
with the English weakness constantly shown 
in the eagerness of even radical audiences to 
secure, if possible, a man of rank to take the 
chair at any public meeting ; and also with the 
deference with which such hearers would listen 
to very poor or dull speaking if backed by a 
title, while they would promptly stamp down a 
man of their own rank, with a rudeness rarely 
paralleled in America, if he spoke a little too 
long or not clearly enough. This I noticed, for 
instance, at a large meeting in the Freemason's 
Tavern (in 1878), at which I had been invited 



360 CONTEMPORARIES 

to speak in favor of opening picture galleries 
and museums on Sunday. Lord Rosebery and 
Lord Dunraven both argued acceptably, followed 
by the late Lord Dorchester, who spoke with 
the greatest difficulty and quite inaudibly, but 
received nevertheless a rapt attention, whereas 
a delegate from Manchester, who spoke far 
better and more to the point, was stamped 
down without mercy. In following him I was 
received and heard with the greatest cordiality 
as an American, while I said nothing to com- 
pare in value with what the man from Manches- 
ter had said. Again, it is held in England 
perfectly legitimate for a party to break up by 
force a meeting of the opposite party, whereas 
this is very rare with us, and always hurts the 
rioters. Much is said about the English love 
of fair play, but this instinct would really seem 
less strong among the English than among our- 
selves. 

I had the great advantage, both in England 
and France, of being sent in 1878 as a delegate 
to some prison discipline meetings ; and al- 
though this was a subject with which I was 
somewhat unfamiliar, yet I went, fortunately, 
under the wing of the late Rev. Dr. E. C. 
Wines, whom I found everywhere to be treated 
with great deference as the recognized leader 
in that whole matter. I particularly enjoyed a 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 361 

meeting at the Social Science Rooms in Lon- 
don at which the late Lord Carnarvon presided. 
I became acquainted for the first time with the 
much more formal habits of English public 
meetings, as compared with ours, — the elab- 
orate proposing and seconding of everything, 
even of votes of thanks to chairmen and secre- 
taries, always accompanied by speeches by the 
proposer and seconder. I noticed there, also, 
the marked difference between English and 
Irish public speaking, the latter exemplified by 
the late Lord O'Hagan, and remarkable in his 
case for its ease and flow. 

But most remarkable of all, and surpassing 
in spontaneous oratory anything I ever heard 
in England, was the speech, at this meeting, of 
Cardinal Manning, a man whose whole bearing 
made him, as my friend Moncure Conway said, 
"the very evolution of an ecclesiastic." Even 
the shape of his head showed the development 
of his function ; he had the noble brow and thin 
ascetic jaw, from which everything not belong- 
ing to the upper realms of thought and action 
seemed to have been visibly pared away ; his 
mouth had singular mobility ; his voice was in 
the last degree winning and persuasive ; his 
tones had nothing in them specifically English, 
but might have been those of a highly culti- 
vated American, or Frenchman, or Italian, or 



362 CONTEMPORARIES 

even German. I felt as if I had for the first 
time met a man of the world, in the highest 
sense, — and even of all worlds. His know- 
ledge of the subject seemed greater than that 
of any other speaker; his convictions were 
wholly large and humane, and he urged them 
with a gentle and controlling courtesy that dis- 
armed opposition. In reading his memoirs, 
long after, I recognized the limitations which 
came from such a temperament and breeding ; 
but all his wonderful career of influence in 
England existed by implication in that one 
speech at the Prison Congress. If I were look- 
ing for reasons in favor of the Roman Catholic 
Church, its strongest argument, in my opinion, 
would be its power to develop and promote to 
high office one such man. The individual who 
stands next to him in my personal experience, 
and perhaps even as his superior, is a French 
priest I once met by chance in one of the great 
Continental cathedrals, and whose very name I 
do not know ; but who impressed and charmed 
me so profoundly by his face, manner, and voice, 
it has seemed to me ever since that if I waked 
up to find myself betrayed into a great crime, I 
should wish to cross the ocean to confess it to 
him. 

In meeting the Englishman whom I had per- 
haps most desired to encounter, — Mr. Glad- 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 363 

stone, — I had a curious illustration of the uncer- 
tain quality of a letter of introduction. On one's 
first visit to a foreign country one collects such 
letters with a curious interest, as if each were a 
magic key to open a realm of unbounded pro- 
mise ; but he may live to find that there is much 
difference in the keys. Thus I was offered a 
letter to Mr. Gladstone from an English clergy- 
man, an Oxford doctor of divinity, not now living, 
who had resided for some time in this country 
as a very successful tutor or coach for college 
students. He had written, when in England, a 
pamphlet in support of Gladstone, at some im- 
portant crisis, and in his letter of introduction 
recalled himself to the great man's memory by 
this good deed. On arriving in London I sent 
out my letters with my card in the usual way, 
and that to Mr. Gladstone was the only one 
which remained unanswered. This state of 
things continuing for many days, it crossed my 
mind that I had heard a vague rumor at home 
to the effect that the clergyman had left Eng- 
land under a cloud, and mentioning the matter 
to Sir John Rose, whom I had met in America 
and whom I knew to be on intimate terms with 
Mr. Gladstone, the matter was soon set right, 
and the obstacle turned out to have been just 
what I supposed. After all, however, I had but 
a brief interview with Mr. Gladstone, by his own 



364 CONTEMPORARIES 

appointment, on which occasion, as I find by 
my notebook, I was struck with his being in 
voice and appearance more like an American 
than most Englishmen I had seen. He was 
surprisingly well acquainted with our leading 
American authors, and came near to conceding, 
so I fancied, that the outcome of our civil war 
had been quite unlike what he had expected. 
He showed great pleasure in the fact that Ed- 
ward Everett had sent his son to the English 
Cambridge, and expressed earnest hope that 
this would become more common for American 
youth. It was pleasant to carry him the first in- 
formation that his "Juventus Mundi" had been 
reprinted in this country, a thing which seemed 
to please him exceedingly. I find recorded of 
him in my brief diary : " A fine, wise, keen face, 
a voice like Emerson's without the hesitancy." 
My visit to London being very hurried, it was 
necessary to decline an invitation to breakfast, 
and through a series of circumstances we did 
not meet again. 

The radical side of London was more con- 
spicuous then than now, and I should have been 
extremely sorry to have missed it. I wished 
particularly to hear Charles Bradlaugh, who was 
just at the height of his fame as a popular 
speaker. I was piloted to his hall by Mr. 
Odger, a prominent workingmen's leader, — a 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 365 

diminutive, sturdily built man, who ploughed his 
way before me through the Sunday evening 
crowd like a bluff little English tug making the 
way for a clumsier craft. The place of meet- 
ing was a low and dingy hall, crowded with peo- 
ple who listened with great enthusiasm to an 
address on "Jehovah." Bradlaugh seemed to 
me one of the natural orators, like Beecher, a 
man of commanding appearance and fine voice, 
and without mere sensationalism or the pursuit 
of antagonism for its own sake ; in all these 
points quite surpassing Colonel Ingersoll, with 
whom he has been often compared. I never 
shall forget the impressiveness of one passage 
in which he described a shipwrecked mother, 
stranded upon a rock in the ocean during a 
rising tide, and continually lifting her baby 
higher and higher, still praying to her God to 
preserve her child, until the moment when the 
pitiless waves submerged them both. I im- 
agined that it would be almost impossible to 
paint a picture from the agnostic point of view 
which would be more powerful with an audi- 
ence. He came to lunch with me a few days 
later, and I found in his talk that vigor and 
power of adaptation which made his career in 
Parliament so remarkable. I saw him also in 
frequent attendance at the trial of Mrs. Annie 
Besant, an occasion which presented the strange 



366 CONTEMPORARIES 

combination of a contest for the custody of a 
child between a Christian father and an athe- 
istic or agnostic mother, the case being up for 
determination before a Jewish judge. 

It is a constant attraction about London that 
the step from the associations of radicalism to 
those of royalty is always easy, and implies 
hardly more than the crossing of a park. So I 
felt, at least, when, on May 13, 1878, 1 found my- 
self taking the breezy walk on a showery morn- 
ing from Alder shot railway station to the Com- 
mon, amid an irregular procession of carriages 
and pedestrians, with that fringe of vagabond 
life, always more abundant and picturesque in 
England than among ourselves, consisting of 
gypsies, showmen, tinkers, peddlers, and don- 
keys. One of the habitual English showers 
came on. A crowd under dripping umbrellas 
soon loses all visible distinction of caste, and I 
drifted easily into a very favorable position, 
quite near the flagstaff beneath which the Ma- 
jesty of England was to take its stand for a re- 
view of troops. In England, when it is sun- 
shine, men know it will soon rain ; and when it 
rains hard they know that the sun will promptly 
reappear. In this case the gleaming of light 
was presently brilliant ; umbrellas were lowered, 
raindrops glistened on horses' manes and on 
officers' plumes, and brightly against the in- 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 367 

tense green of English hills shone the scarlet 
regiments advancing to take their places. Her 
Majesty has the royal virtue of punctuality, 
and all eyes were turned toward a low straw 
wagon with two white ponies which came trot- 
ting along the line of spectators. 

But presently all eyes were turned in another 
direction, where they were riveted so long that 
the Queen herself became an object of second- 
ary interest. Two soldiers had long stood ready 
at the flagstaff to hoist the great standard, and 
when the Queen was seen the signal for its 
raising was given. Up it went, flapping in the 
strong wind ; but so clumsily was the flag 
handled that it was wrapped around the staff, 
and not half of it blew out freely. The men 
twitched and tugged in vain ; and her Majesty 
drove by, apparently not noticing the mishap, 
but nodding and smiling good-naturedly to some 
of the ladies who sat in favored positions. 

When she had gone by and had turned to 
drive past the line of troops opposite us, there 
was a subdued murmur of " Lower the flag, 
and try it again." An officer stepped forward 
to give orders, and down it came. Then it be- 
gan to go up once more, this time blowing out 
clearly, until it reached half-mast and stopped. 
There was a general groan. Again twitching 
and pulling were tried in vain ; the halyard was 



368 CONTEMPORARIES 

plainly choked in the block. At last a soldier 
advanced to climb the flagstaff ; subdued cheers 
greeted him ; the Queen was now far away, 
driving down the long line of soldiers ; there 
was plenty of time. Up and up he went, and 
when he stopped, halfway, to rest, the cheering 
grew more outspoken. But more than halfway 
up he never got, and the cheering died into a 
muffled groan when the poor fellow, with a 
sheepish smile, slid slowly downward, quite ex- 
hausted ; and the flag was still at half-mast, and 
the Queen was still advancing. 

Then, after a pause and hurried consultation, 
came forward a cavalryman, and great was the 
relief when, on stripping off his coat, he showed 
the tattooed arms of a sailor. " Bless him ! " 
gasped a lady near me. " There's but just 
time ! " growled her husband. Up went the 
bold dragoon, not stopping even to take off his 
heavy boots ; no applause met him till he had 
passed the point where his predecessor had 
stopped ; then all seemed to take breath, and 
the murmur of triumph swelled. But as he 
went higher he went ominously slower ; and ten 
feet from the top, utterly powerless to climb 
an inch farther, he stuck helpless, an object of 
dismay to twenty thousand people. Stretching 
out his tired arm, bending and unbending it, as 
if to say, " If you only knew how I feel ! " the 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 369 

poor victim of unavailing patriotism slid slowly 
down ; and there was the Queen now in full 
sight and rapidly approaching. 

The commander of her advance guard had 
just reached the flagstaff as the poor cavalry- 
man slunk back among his mates. " Pull down 
that flag ! " shouted the officer or somebody. 
Down it came, and her Majesty the Queen of 
England and Empress of India reviewed her 
troops without a flag over her head. I do not 
know how many Englishmen present recalled 
the fact that a somewhat similar mishap occurred 
when the flag of the ill-fated Charles I. was first 
raised at Nottingham, in 1642 ; indeed, I did 
not find a single one who remembered it ; but 
it was at least a curious coincidence. There 
was, at the time of this review at Aldershot, 
quite a general impression that war with Russia 
was impending ; and the more songs one sang 
about "the meteor flag of England," the more 
awkward it certainly was to have the meteor go 
down instead of up. But so far as England's 
Queen was concerned, this annoying test only 
brought out her finer qualities. Her expression 
was, as all said, unusually bright and cheerful 
on that day ; she cast one light glance at the 
empty flagstaff, and from that moment seemed 
to ignore the whole matter. The effect was to 
make every one else ignore it, and all were soon 
absorbed in the brilliancy of the review. 



370 CONTEMPORARIES 

That is, it was called very brilliant ; and no 
doubt the predominant English scarlet is incom- 
parably more effective to the eye than our sober 
blue. But the very perfection of the appoint- 
ments made it all seem to me rather a play- 
soldier affair ; I had grown so accustomed to 
judging of soldiers by their look of actual ser- 
vice that a single company of bronzed and tat- 
tered men would have been a positive relief 
among these great regiments of smooth-faced 
boys. This involved no reproach to the young 
recruits, and did not affect the mere spectacle, 
but it impaired the moral interest. However, 
the drill and the marching were good, though 
there is a sort of heaviness about the British 
soldier when compared with the wonderful vigor 
and alertness of German infantry. As for the 
uniforms, the arms, the appointments, the horses, 
they were simply admirable. I do not believe 
that there ever was an army in finer material 
condition than those sixteen thousand men at 
Aldershot. 

And all this brilliant display was subject to a 
woman ; and when the final salute was paid, 
every gun was at " present arms " for her, and 
in her honor the band played " God save the 
Queen ! " I find written in my journal : " There 
was something of real majesty in her manner, 
as she stood up before her soldiers in acknow- 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 371 

ledgment of the salute. She is short, stout, 
with a rather heavy and not altogether a pleas- 
ing face ; but in spite of all this, she has a dig- 
nity of bearing which amounts almost to grace, 
and is the only personal charm that her subjects 
claim for her. Even this does not make her 
exactly popular, and at this very time I heard 
ungracious remarks in regard to the large 
Highlander, John Brown, her confidential ser- 
vant, who, in gorgeous array, sat behind her 
Majesty, much more lofty and conspicuous than 
herself. But I am afraid it is true that England 
still prefers to be ruled by a queen ; and it is 
certain that the present sovereign will hold her 
prerogatives, such as they are, with a firm hand. 
I never find myself quite such a ruthless repub- 
lican anywhere else as in England — and yet 
there is a certain historic interest and satisfac- 
tion, after the long subordination of women, in 
thinking that the leading monarchy of the world 
still takes its orders from a woman's hand." 

It has rarely happened in history that a single 
sovereign, by the mere prolongation of a peace- 
ful reign, has so influenced human history as 
has been the case with Queen Victoria. It was 
everywhere distinctly recognized in England, 
in 1878, even among radicals, that this strong 
personal influence was sure to be exerted while 
she lived. I was struck with the remark made 



372 CONTEMPORARIES 

by one of the ablest women I met, the late Mrs. 
Augusta Webster, who pointed out to me that, 
in the existing state of public opinion, the Brit- 
ish throne was a thing just suited to a woman. 
It was largely, she said, a position of ceremony ; 
the sovereign must reign without governing. 
Now this would hardly be a dignified position 
for a man ; one occupying it must either seem 
rather insignificant, or else be tempted to acts 
of aggression in order to enhance his dignity, 
and this the people would not endure. An 
English army officer of high rank told me, in 
that same year, when I asked him if England 
would ever become a republic, that while the 
Queen lived it would be an absolute impos- 
sibility ; but that if she outlived the Prince of 
Wales, which was quite possible, and if there 
were then to be a disputed succession, or some 
young and imprudent sovereign were to ascend 
the throne, it would be difficult to predict the 
consequences. There is undoubtedly much less 
of visible republican feeling in England to-day 
than was the case twenty years ago ; but we 
must always remember, on the other hand, that 
the Emperor of Germany, with all his high-flown 
theories of absolutism, is Queen Victoria's grand- 
son ; that he has been claimed by some Eng- 
lish journals as the rightful heir to the English 
crown ; and that, even if we set this heirship 



THE ROAD TO ENGLAND 373 

aside as wholly impossible, we do not know what 
influence his example might have upon that 
still untried cousin who may succeed to the 
throne. I have never yet met an Englishman 
who would admit that the British people would 
tolerate for a month any assumptions like those 
habitually made by the present German Em- 
peror. Great as might be the sacrifice implied 
in the adoption of a republic, I am persuaded 
that to the vast majority of Englishmen it would 
be the more palatable alternative, than to be 
ruled, I will not say by him personally, but by 
such traditions and standards as he represents. 



INDEX 



Abbott, J. S. C, 145. 

Adams, C. F., 295. 

Adams, John, 4, 5, 260, 278, 282. 

Adams, J. Q., 51, 259, 295. 

Adams, Samuel, 269, 285. 

iEschylus, 99. 

Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, 

372. 
Alcott, A. B., 23-33. 
Alcott, Louisa, 27. 
Amberley, Lady, 351, 352. 
Amberley, Lord, 351, 354. 
Ames, Fisher, 4, 5. 
Anaxagoras, 125. 
Andrew, J. A., 256, 295. 
Angelo, Michael, 8. 
Appleton, Nathaniel, 190. 
Aristotle, 99. 
Arnold, Matthew, 15. 
Austin, J. T., 259. 

Bachiler, Father, 70. 
Bancroft, George, 5, 356. 
Banks, Sir Joseph, 195. 
Barclay, Robert, (of Ury), 71. 
Barlow, Joel, 4. 
Bartlett, John, 172, 174, 182. 
Beecher, H. W., 49, 365. 
Berkeley, George, 352. 
Besant, Mrs. Annie, 365. 
Birney, J. G., 249, 254, 337. 
Bismarck, C. O. von, 327. 
Bonaparte, Napoleon, 57, 77, 233, 

285, 298, 305, 314. 
Boswell, James, 349. 
Botta, Mrs. A. C. L., 156. 
Bradlaugh, Charles, 364, 365. 
Bragg, Braxton, 315. 
Bright, John, 279, 302. 
Brooks, Dr., 112. 
Brooks, P. S., 283, 284. 
Brown, Anne, 228, 234, 237. 
Brown, Charles Brockden, 5. 
Brown, Ellen, 228, 236, 237. 



Brown, Frederick, 222. 

Brown, Jason, 228. 

Brown, Capt. John, 133, 135, 210- 

243. 263, 279, 299, 300, 371. 
Brown, Mrs. John, 229, 239, 240, 

241, 242. 
Brown, John, Jr., 228. 
Brown, Oliver, 229, 231. 
Brown, Owen, 228. 
Brown, Robert, 217, 218. 
Brown, Salmon, 228, 229, 243. 
Brown, Sarah, 228. 
Browne, C. F. (Artemus Ward), 74. 
Browning, Robert, 78, 100, 347, 352. 
Brutus, 17. 

Bryant, Dr. Henry, 200. 
Bryant, W. C, 5, 116. 
Buckingham, J. T., 127. 
Buckner, S. B., 307. 
Buell, D. C, 311, 316. 
Burke, Edmund, 8, 116, 287. 
Burleigh, C. C, 331. 
Burney, Fanny, 116, 351. 
Burns, Anthony, 29, 262, 297, 298. 
Burns, Robert, 102. 
Burnside, A. E., 316, 320, 321. 
Butler, B. F., 277. 
Byron, Lord, 227. 

Caesar, Julius, 303, 314, 328. 

Camors, Vicomte de, 273. 

Campbell, Thomas, 350. 

Carlisle, Earl of, 244. 

Carlyle, Thomas, 8, 15, 232, 267. 

Carnarvon, Lord, 361. 

Carter, Robert, 172. 

Cassius, 17. 

Chadbourne, Miss, 190. 

Chamberlain, D. H., 247. 

Channing, E. T., 5. 

Channing, W. E. (Rev.), 1, 123, 289. 

Channing, W. E. (poet), 20. 

Channing, W. H., 51, 52, 259. 

Chapman, Maria (Weston), 124, 264. 



376 



INDEX 



Charlemagne, 44, 45. 

Charles I., 86. 

Charles II., 86. 

Chase, S. P., 302. 

Chatham, William Pitt, Earl of, 

286. 
Child, D. L., 116. 
Child, Lydia Maria (Francis), 108- 

141. 
Choate, Rufus, 43, 267. 
Clarendon, Lord, 13. 
Clarke, J. F., 39. 
Clarke, Sarah F., 153. 
Clarkson, Thomas, 279, 302. 
Clay, Henry, 290. 
Clemens, S. L. (Mark Twain), 358. 
Cleveland, Grover, 161. 
Cobden, Richard, 279, 302. 
Coleridge, S. T., 18, 67, 93. 
Comte, Auguste, 18. 
Conway, M. D., 361. 
Cook, 233, 234. 
Cook, Joseph, 30. 
Cooke, G. W., 2. 
Cooper, J. F., 5, 114, 115. 
Cousin, Victor, 18. 
Cramer, 202. 
Cushing, Caleb, 277. 

D'Alembert, J. C. R., 68. 
Dame, Hannah, 152. 
Danton, G. J., 92. 
Davis, John, 282. 
Dejean, P. F. A., Count, 217. 
Demosthenes, 280, 286. 
De Stael, Madame, 120. 
Dickens, Charles, 99. 
Dickinson, Emily, 162. 
Dorchester, Lord, 360. 
Doubleday, Edward, 209. 
Douglass, Frederick, 224, 267. 
Dowden, Edward, 98. 
Doyle, Mahala, 234. 
Drury, Drew, 202. 
Dryden, John, 93, 330. 
Dunraven, Lord, 360. 
Dwight, Timothy, 287. 

Eaton, Amos, 205. 

Edgeworth, Maria, 351. 

Edwards, Jonathan, 57. 

Elizabeth, Queen, 86. 

Emerson, Ellen Louise (Tucker), 7. 

Emerson, Lidian (Jackson), 12. 

Emerson, Mary, 2. 

Emerson, R. W., 1-22 ; also, 23, 24, 
25, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 46, 54, 
55. 59. 69, 78, 81, 85, no, 151, 
157, 162, 177, 269, 270, 279, 280, 
364- 



Emerson, Ruth (Haskins), i,s. 
Emerson, William, 1, 6. 
Emerson, Rev. William, 1. 
Erckmann-Chatrian, 172. 
Eschenburg, J. J., 144. 
Evarts, W. M., 267. 
Everett, Edward, 193, 256, 364. 

Faber, F. W., 251. 

Falkland, Lord, 13. 

Field, Kate, 357. 

Fielding, Henry, 99. 

Fields, J. T., 106, 151, 152. 

Fiske, Deborah (Vinal), 143. 

Fiske, Helen Maria, 143. 

Fiske, N. W., 143. 

Fitch, Charles, 250. 

Folsom, Abby, 330, 331. 

Forbes, Hugh, 299. 

Forrest, N. B., 317. 

Foster, Abby (Kelley), 264. 

Foster, S. S., 252, 253, 277, 336. 

Fourier, Charles, 128, 284. 

Fox, C. J., 286. 

Fox, George, 8. 

Francis, Convers, 109, no, 113. 

Francis, Elizabeth, 112. 

Francis, Richard, 109. 

Francis, Susannah (Rand), 109. 

Franklin, Benjamin, 97. 

Frdmont, J. C, 275. 

Frothingham, N. L., 2, 194. 

Frothingham, O. B., 7. 

Froude, J. A., 357. 

Fuller, Margaret (see Ossoli). 

Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 313. 
Garnaut, Mrs. Eliza, 265. 
Garrett, Thomas, 227. 
Garrison, W. L., 244-256 ; also 60, 

121, 263, 264, 267, 275, 279, 285, 

302, 330, 333, 336, 338. 
Gladstone, W. E., 287, 362, 363. 
Godart, J. B., 201. 
Goethe, J. W., von, n, 41, 77, 289. 
Goodell, William, 249, 250. 
Gould, A. A., 199. 
Graeter, Francis, 119. 
Grant, U. S., 302-328; also 290. 
Grattan, T. C 286. 
Gray, Asa, 214, 215. 
Greaves, J. P., 27. 
Greeley, Horace, 19, 49. 
Grimke, Sarah, 250. 
Grimm, Herman, 15. 
Guion, Madame, 120. 

Hackett, Doctor, 345-347. 
Hale, J. P., 302. 
Hale, Mrs. S. J., 125. 



INDEX 



377 



Hallam, Henry, 44. 

Hallett, B. F., 259. 

Hancock, John, 260, 278. 

Harris, Catherine (Holbrook), 196. 

Harris, Mary (Dix), 193, 194. 

Harris, T. M., 192. 

Harris, T. W., 192-218. 

Hawes, Charlotte, 117. 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 21, 64, 92, 

102, 103, 104, 106. 
Hawthorne. Sophia (Peabody), 102- 

107. 
Haydn, Joseph, 94. 
Hayne, P. H., 85, 99. 
Hegel, G. W. F., 15, 18. 
Hentz, N. M., 196, 197, 203, 208, 

212, 213. 
Hereward, 292. 
Hesiod, 4. 
Hillard, G. S., 259. 
Hitchcock, Edward, 207, 215. 
Holbrook, Amos, 196. 
Holland, J. G., 163. 
Holmes, John, 168-191. 
Holmes, O. W., 24, 66, 69, 71, 169, 

171, 173, 181. 
Homer, 4. 

Hopper, I. T., 126, 130. 
Horsford, E. N., 146. 
Houghton, Lord, 357. 
Howe, Estes, 172. 
Howe, J. M., 172. 
Howe, S. G. , 294-301. 
Howells, W. D., 184. 
Hiibner, 202. 

Hughes, Thomas, 329, 356. 
Hugo, Victor, 84. 
Humphreys, N. A., 322. 
Hunt, E. B., 145, 146. 
Hunt, Murray, 146. 
Hunt, Washington, 145. 
Hunt, W. H., 146. 
Hutchinson family, 333-336. 
Hyacinthe, Pere, 168. 

Ingersoll, R. G., 365. 

Irving, Washington, 5, 63, 114. 

Jackson, Andrew, 235. 

Jackson, Charles, 12. 

Jackson, C. T., 12. 

Jackson, Francis, 139. 

Jackson, Helen (" H.H."), 142- 

167. 
Jackson, W. S., 153. 
James I., 86. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 97, 285. 
Johnson, Samuel, 87, 116, 350. 
Jonson, Ben, 17. 
Joubert, Joseph, 17. 



Karnes, Henry Home, Lord, 151. 

Kant, Immanuel, 15. 

Keats, John, 100, 102. 

King, J. G., 42, 43- 

Kinney, Abbott, 159. 

Kirby, William, 206. 

Knox, John, 3. 

Kossuth, Louis, 15. 

La Farge, John, 352. 

La Fontaine, J. de, 68. 

Lamartine, A. M. L. de, 342. 

Lamb, Charles, 9. 

Lamson, Father, 330. 

Landor, W. S., 8,280. 

Lane, Charles, 30. 

Lane, G. M., 184. 

Langbourne, Major, 282. 

Lanier, Jerome, 86. 

Lanier, Sir John, 86. 

Lanier, Mary (Anderson), 86. 

Lanier, Mary (Day), 89. 

Lanier, Nicholas, 86. 

Lanier, R. S., 86. 

Lanier, Sidney, 85-101 ; also 83. 

Lanier, Thomas, 86. 

Latreille, P. A., 201. 

Lawrence, Abbott, 272. 

Lawrence, G. P., 172. 

Le Conte, J., 209. 

Lee, R. E., 312, 313*315. 325- 

Leonard, L. W., 209. 

Leonowens, Mrs. A. H., 160. 

Lewes, Mrs. (George Eliot), 99. 

Lincoln, Abraham, 79, 247, 256, 

.274. 303, 304, 3!0. 3!5> 323, 326. 
Linnaeus, Charles von, 192. 
Longfellow, H. W., 8, 19, 22, 64, 

66, 69, 173,358. 
Loring, Anna, 130. 
Lovejoy, E. P., 259. 
Lowell, J. R., 24, 66, 69, 70, 85, 100, 

128, 172, 173, 174, 183, 184, 185, 

186, 330,331- 
Lowell, Mrs. J. R., 173. 
Lundy, Benjamin, 249, 250. 
Luther, Martin, 8, 48, 59, in, 286. 

Macaulay, T. B., 50. 
Mann, Horace, 256, 297. 
Manning, Cardinal, 361. 
Marshall, John, 291. 
Martineau, Harriet, 122, 251. 
Marvell, Andrew, 117. 
Mason family, the, 216. 
Mason, Mrs.M. J. C, 134, 135. 
Maupassant, Guy de, 75. 
Meade, G. G., 318. 
Melsheimer, 209. 
Mellen, G. W. F., 330. 



378 



INDEX 



Methuselah, 178. 
Mill, J. S., 18. 
Miller, " Joaquin," 74. 
Millet, J. F., 162. 
Milton, John, 8, m. 
Moltke, H. K. B., von, 325. 
Morgan, Lady Sidney, 74. 
Morris, William, 96. 
Morse, J. T., Jr., 171, 173. 
Motley, J. L., 258. 
Mott, James, 339. 

Newby, Dangerfield, 225. 
Newman, Edward, 192. 
Noon, Ora, 339-341. 
Noyes, J. H., 330. 
Nuttall, Thomas, 204. 

O'Connell, Daniel, 261, 271. 

Odger, James, 364. 

O'Hagan, Lord, 361. 

Olivier, G. A., 202, 208. 

Osgood, David, 113. 

Osgood, J. R., 152. 

Ossian, 77. 

Ossoli, Margaret (Fuller), 13, 19, 

81, no. 
Otis, H. G.,257. 
Otis, James, 115, 116, 260. 

Paine, Thomas, 4. 

Palfrey, J. G., 113, 255. 

Palmer, J. M., 316. 

Parker, Theodore, 34-59; also 19, 

28, 82, no, in, 131, 262, 263, 267, 

271, 283, 286, 288, 289, 296, 298. 
Parkman, Francis, 76. 
Peabody, Elizabeth P., 26. 
Peck, W. D., 195, 204. 
Pedro, Dom (emperor of Brazil), 

356. 
Peel, Sir Robert, 287. 
Peirce, Benjamin, 198. 
Penn, William, 71. 
Pestalozzi, J. H., 27. 
Phelps, A. A., 249. 
Phidias, 5. 

Phillips, Ann T. (Greene), 260. 
Phillips, George, 257. 
Phillips, John, 257, 258. 
Phillips, Jonathan, 259. 
Phillips, S. C, 295. 
Phillips, Sarah (Walley), 257. 
Phillips, Wendell, 257-279; also 51, 

246, 252, 295, 300, 330, 331. 
Pickering, Charles, 207. 
Pierce, Franklin, 103. 
Pillow, G. J., 307. 
Pillsbury, Parker, 336. 
Pinkney, E. C, 85. 



Plato, 4, 99, 125. 
Plutarch, 289. 
Plympton, Sylvanus, 196. 
Poe, E. A., 80, 81. 
Pope, Alexander, 93, 118. 
Pursh, Frederick, 205. 
Putnam, Israel, 327. 

Quincy, Edmund, 262, 271, 272,275 
Quincy, Josiah, 256, 257, 260. 
Quincy, Josiah, Jr., 3. 
Quinet, Edgar, 15. 

Randolph, John, 290. 
Raphael, 5. 
Reay, Lord, 356. 
Redpath, James, 265. 
Reniond, Charles, 252. 
Richardson, Samuel, 68, 99. 
Ripley, George, no. 
Ripley, Mrs., 2. 
Rivarol, Count de, 203. 
Robbins, Chandler, 7. 
Robespierre, F. J. M. I., 342. 
Rogers, N. P., 333. 
Roland, Madame, 120. 
Romilly, Sir Samuel, 272. 
Rose, Sir John, 363. 
Rosebery, Lord, 360. 
Rossetti, D. G., 80. 
Ruskin, John, 77. 
Russell, Earl, 351. 
Russell, Lady, 120. 

Say, Thomas, 204, 205, 207, 209, 

210, 211, 217. 
Schelling, F. W. J., von, 18. 
Schleiermacher, F. E. D., 79. 
Schofield, J. McA., 316. 
Scott, Sir Walter, 123. 
Scudder, S. H., 215. 
Seward, W. H., 286, 302. 
Shakespeare, William, 94, 99, in. 
Shaw, H. W. (Josh Billings), 74. 
Shaw, R. G., 256. 
Shelley, P. B., 21, 85, 98, 227. 
Sheridan, P. H., 317, 318, 320, 321= 
Sherman, W. T., 310, 312, 316. 
Sidney, Sir Philip, 21. 
Sims, Thomas, 268, 2S3, 297. 
Smellie, William, 199. 
Smith, " Bobus," 305. 
Smith, Gerrit, 224. 
Smith, Sydney, 5, 305. 
Snow, P. & S., 185. 
Socrates, 16. 
Sparks, Jared, 193. 
Spence, William, 206. 
Spencer, Herbert, 18. 
Spenser, Edmund, 345. 



INDEX 



379 



Spinoza, Benedict, 79. 

Spooner, Lysander, 264. 

Stanley, Lord (of Alderley), 351. 

Stanton, E. M., 302. 

Stearns, G= L., 299. 

Stebbins, Horatio, 162. 

Stedman, E. C, 76, 84. 

Stedman, Sam, 188. 

Stevens, A. D., 233. 

Stoll, 202. 

Stone, Lucy, 158, 336. 

Storer, D. H., 204. 

Storey, C. W., 184. 

Storey, Moorfield, 184. 

Story, Joseph, 291. 

Sumner, Charles, 280-293 ; also 45, 

256, 267, 273, 295, 303, 357. 
Swan, Miss, 113. 
Swedenborg, Emanuel, 57, 128. 
Swinburne, A. C., 95, 125. 

Tacitus, 17. 

Taney, R. B., 224. 

Tappan, Arthur, 249. 

Tappan, Lewis, 249, 250. 

Taylor, Bayard, 76, 90. 

Taylor, Percy, 342-344. 

Taylor, Zachary, 306, 307. 

Tennyson, Alfred, 19. 

Thackeray, W. M., 49. 

Thayer, David, 263. 

Thayer, J. B., 172. 

Thompson, Henry, 228. 

Thompson, Ruth (Brown), 228. 

Thompsons, the, 225, 228. 

Thoreau, H. D., 31, 64, 85, 94, 100, 

301. 
Thucydides, 4. 

Ticknor, George, 116, 271, 272, 357, 
Toby, Uncle, 310. 
Tocqueville, A. C. H. C. de, 268. 
Towne, J. H., 250. 
Trowbridge, Edmund, 189. 
Tuckerman, Edward, 192. 
Tupper, M. F., 77. 
Turner, Nat, 121. 
Tyndall, John, 15, 357. 
Tyrtaeus, 65. 



Van Dyck, Sir Anthony, 86. 

Vergniaud, P. V., 342. 

Victoria, Queen, 367-372. 

Visit to John Brown's Household in 

1859, 219-243. 
Voet, P. E., 208. 

Walker, Alexander, 121. 

Walpole, Horace, 4. 

Ward, C. J., 211. 

Ward, W. H., 86, 90, 91, 92, 100. 

Ware, Charles, 176. 

Ware, Henry, Jr., 6, 21. 

Warren, G. K., 146, 317-322. 

Washington, George, 97, 193, 252. 

Webster, Mrs. Augusta, 372. 

Webster, Daniel, 43, 57, 247, 256, 
267, 268. 

Weiss, John, 288. 

Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, 
Duke of, 233, 305, 325. 

Wesley, John, 252. 

Westermann, 210. 

Westwood, J. O., 202. 

Wheelock, Eleazar, 188. 

Whipple, E. P., 106. 

Whitefield, George, 115. 

Whitman, Walt, 72-84; also 97, 
98. 

Whittier, J. G., 60-71; also 76, 
, 248. 
, Wilberforce, William, 279, 302. 

Wilson, Henry, 256, 302. 
; Wines, E. C, 360. 

Winthrop, James, 189. 
1 Winthrop, R. C, 272, 296. 
, Wise, H. A., 133, 134. 

Woodbury, J. T., 250. 

Woodrow, James, 87. 

Woodward, Rufus, 213. 

Woolsey, Sarah C, 153. 

Wordsworth, William, 8, 19, 39. 

Wright, Elizur, 250. 

Wright, Frances, 121. 

Wright, H. C, 332, 336. 

Wright, H. G., 27. 

Xenophon, 4. 



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